PNE boss Alex Neil happy with the balance of his squad after loan deals

Marnick Vermijl takes on Bobby Grant in his Scunthorpe debut at Fleetwood
Marnick Vermijl takes on Bobby Grant in his Scunthorpe debut at Fleetwood

Alex Neil was pleased to have trimmed the Preston North End squad by allowing five players to leave on loan in January.

Marnick Vermijl, Kevin O’Connor, Andy Boyle, Ben Pringle and Eoin Doyle left for League One clubs ahead of last week’s deadline.

First-team chances would have been limited at PNE, so Lilywhites boss Neil felt it was best to let them leave to get the chance of a run of games.

Neil told the Post: “We are getting people back from long-term injuries, hence we have been able to put players out on loan.

“They weren’t playing much here, so the best thing for them and for us is that they go out and play football.

“We can concentrate on the players who are going to be heavily involved in the run-in.

“I think we are at a stage where we have quality over quantity, sometimes you carry 26, 27, 28 lads and realistically that is too many.

“We have got a squad of 23 players and that is not including any of the young kids who can come in – there’s got to be a pathway for some of them.

“What happens is that some of the experienced lads who weren’t going to feature are taking slots up in the squad and on the bench – that is not necessarily a good thing.”

While some of those who have gone out on loan clearly do not have a future at North End, Neil says the door is not completely shut.

He cites the case of Ben Davies who had five spells out on loan before establishing himself in the PNE first-team this season.

Said Neil: “The door is not completely shut on anybody.

“The simple fact is that I pick the guys who I deem to be training and playing the best.

“If they come back and show up better than the guys who have been here, then it is pretty simple.

“Ben Davies is a good example, he has come back and has played nearly every game.”

Vermijl joined Scunthorpe on deadline day and made his Iron debut against Fleetwood on Saturday.

The Belgian right-back was in opposition to O’Connor who signed for Fleetwood the week before.

Andy Boyle played his first game for Doncaster in their 2-2 draw at Portsmouth.

Pringle and Doyle have joined Oldham, Pringle making the move early last month.

Doyle spent four months on loan with Oldham in the first half of the season before rejoining them last week.

But he will be sidelined for a few more weeks because of a blood clot.