How Preston North End's January transfer window played out

Preston North End's winter transfer window as far as incoming deals were concerned started and ended back on January 9.

Friday, 31st January 2020, 10:44 pm
Updated Friday, 31st January 2020, 10:44 pm
Preston North End's Deepdale ground

That was the night they completed the signing of Scott Sinclair from Celtic, a deal which very much caught the imagination of the Lilywhites faithful.

And there North End stopped in terms of recruitment, Sinclair the one capture in January.

They wanted a striker, the finance clearly didn't stretch that far, so it will be a familiar-looking squad which heads into the last three months of the season.

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Scott Sinclair prepares to make his Preston debut against Blackburn on January 11

In terms of all the business over the past month, there's been one contract cancellation, one loan cut short and five outgoing loan deals done.

Andre Green's season-long loan from Aston Villa was halted in early January, with the winger loaned straight out by Villa to Charlton Athletic.

Green made a swift return to Deepdale with the Addicks, scored early doors but ended-up on the losing side.

Chris Maxwell's contract was cancelled by mutual consent, allowing him to sign for Blackpool a few days later.

Andre Green has his loan at Preston cut short in January

The goalkeeper had been away on loan at Hibernian, so it wasn't as if he had been around the place anyway.

Josh Earl came back from Bolton at the end of a five-month loan and went out on loan to Ipswich Town.

Another player to make the move to League One on a temporary basis was Josh Ginnelly who was loaned to Bristol Rovers.

From the younger end of the PNE squad, Jack Baxter went to Clitheroe on loan, while Adam O'Reilly and Ethan Walker headed to Stalybridge Celtic for the rest of the season.

Scott Sinclair after signing for Preston North End (Photo courtesy of PNE)

It is fair to say a good number of Preston supporters you speak to and hear from wanted more incoming business than just Sinclair.

Pausing that argument and focusing on Sinclair for a moment, it is right to say that the winger's arrival seems a great piece of business.

He's a talented player who has turned out for some very good teams, his pedigree there for all to see.

Sinclair's arrival early in the window whetted the appetite for more but he was to be the only new face in the dressing room.

As a side note, had the Sinclair deal happened later in the window and nearer to the deadline, would that have changed the perception of January?

Fans hoped a striker would follow Sinclair, someone to take the chances created by Sinclair and the other creative players North End have in midfield and on the flanks.

If you are going to sign someone better than what you have got they tend to cost a lot in the domestic market and looking abroad isn't something PNE have done for quite a few years.

Much was made about Nahki Wells going to Bristol City from Burnley for a fee in the region of £4m. However, the Robins helped finance that move with the sale of Josh Brownhill to the Clarets.

Brownhill's move to Turf Moor was significant in that North End had a sell-on clause which will bring cash to Deepdale.

As well as a striker, others high on the supporters' wanted list was a left-back and goalkeeper.

The left-back wish arose out of concern over the four injuries Andrew Hughes has suffered this season and the fact Joe Rafferty - a right-back by trade - has been covering for him.

It is understood that North End are comfortable with the left-back position, Hughes now back in training and Alex Neil impressed with how Rafferty has done.

As for the keeper, it was probably more about the cover for Declan Rudd who has grown in confidence as the season has gone on.

Connor Ripley didn't impress against Norwich in the FA Cup, Mathew Hudson only seems to be used to tick the home-grown player box when required, while Michael Crowe's only PNE outing was more than 12 months ago.

At first-team level this month, North End have effectively replaced Green with Sinclair. So the squad is stronger in that sense, it is others areas which will be questioned.

The proof of the pudding is in the eating. There are 17 matches of the Championship's regular season remaining.

It is how PNE perform over the course of those which will determine how folk look back at the January window and judge it.