Former Celtic man Scott Sinclair happy to take a central role at Preston North End in bid for goals

With Preston North End’s wings clipped higher up the pitch, Scott Sinclair is happy to adapt his game and become a middle man.

By Dave Seddon
Friday, 13th August 2021, 7:58 am

The 32-year-old got off the mark for the season with two goals playing as a striker in PNE’s 3-0 win at Mansfield in midweek.

Last Saturday when North End lost to Hull City, Sinclair stepped no further than his front door as he was having to isolate.

Freed from that at the start of the week, he wasted no time in getting going in the Carabao Cup victory to put himself in the frame for Saturday’s visit to Reading.

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Scott Sinclair opens the scoring for Preston North End against Mansfield on Tuesday night

Where Sinclair plays in the PNE team has been limited by Frankie McAvoy’s use of a 3-5-2.

The wide areas are filled by wing-backs rather than wingers, the former Celtic man not really having a defensive side to his game to play there.

So he’s looking to make a home up front, getting on the end of things rather than being the creator.

Sinclair took his two goals at Field Mill very well which suggests he has what it takes to play through the middle.

Scott Sinclair scores his second goal of the night at Mansfield

In the main in his career, he’s played wide in a 4-3-3 system – excelling there for Swansea and Celtic in particular.

Under Alex Neil he was a regular in a 4-2-3-1, playing wide of the main striker.

Game time was limited when McAvoy succeeded Neil in the latter stages of last season and changed to the three-at-the-back system, hence the focus went on playing Sinclair in the main as a striker in pre-season.

“It’s completely different playing as a striker but I enjoy it,” said Sinclair.

“You can’t really compare how we played at Celtic to how we set up here at Preston.

“Celtic had a lot of possession, while here we are a bit more direct and don’t play out from the back as much.

“It is all about adapting and in football you’ve always got to be ready to do that – whether it is a change of formation or changing position.

“I enjoyed it at Mansfield, scoring twice and could have finished with a hat-trick.

“Sean Maguire did well for my first goal, sliding the ball through for me.

“It showed that we have the pace and the players capable to break on teams.

“I’d had a similar chance earlier in the first half which was a slightly different angle and their defender was tugging at my shirt.

“I wanted to get a shot away quickly and on that occasion the keeper made a good save.

“For the goal, the approach was different and I chose to have a shot over the keeper.

“My second goal came from a great ball from Ben Whiteman, he’s got a great range of passing and saw my movement in the box.”

Sinclair was Preston’s leading scorer last season with nine goals, the fact that number was enough to top the club charts underlining the fact that finding the net regularly was an issue.

It’s natural progression for him to want to push into double figures in the 2021/22 campaign.

Said Sinclair: “One of my targets this season is to get in double figures.

“I was one shy last year and you should always aim to do better.

“I’ve had a good start this season with two at Mansfield and now I want to score in the league.”

North End fans may forget that they have an Olympian playing for them in Sinclair.

He played for Team GB at the 2012 London Olympics, a rare time when Great Britain entered a men’s team.

At Rio in 2016 and in the Tokyo games just finished, there was no entry from GB.

Watching recent events from Japan stirred a few memories for Sinclair.

“It was great to be involved in the Olympics although it feels a long time ago,” Sinclair said.

“The fact it took place in London made it even more special.

“I scored in the group game against the United Arab Emirates which was a nice moment.

“In the last few weeks it was nice to watch the events in Tokyo.”

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