PNE boss Ryan Lowe targets 'established Championship players' as former Burnley, Fulham, Newcastle United and Norwich City stars are linked

Ryan Lowe's vow to bring 'established Championship players' to Deepdale this summer seems to be gathering speed.

By Dan Black
Tuesday, 14th June 2022, 10:46 am
Updated Tuesday, 14th June 2022, 10:47 am

Speaking in-between heavy defeats against champions Fulham and local rivals Blackburn Rovers at the back end of the season, the Preston North End boss outlined his desire to bring in targets that were already experienced at this level.

The Merseysider has a strong knowledge of League One — having guided Plymouth Argyle to fourth in the table prior to his departure from Home Park — but confessed that his hands were tied from attracting the top talents in the division due to the club's financial restraints.

The Lilywhites are reluctant to shell out big bucks on incomings ahead of the 2022-23 campaign, which will be their eighth season in succession in England's second tier, and so will have to be savvy in the market.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Villarreal's Spanish defender Xavi Quintilla (R) challenges Real Madrid's Spanish defender Sergio Ramos during the Spanish League football match between Real Madrid CF and Villarreal CF at the Alfredo di Stefano stadium in Valdebebas, on the outskirts of Madrid, on July 16, 2020. (Photo by GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP) (Photo by GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP via Getty Images)

"I think if you were to sign the best players in League One, it'll probably cost you a lot of money nowadays," said Lowe.

"No disrespect to League One, it's a fantastic league with some fantastic clubs and there are some very, very good footballers. But, the very, very good footballers are going to cost you an arm and a leg."

Former Burnley striker Andre Gray is reportedly on Lowe's radar alongside Cyrus Christie, Freddie Woodman and Xavi Quintilla, who have all previously plied their trade in the Championship.

Gray has just short of 150 appearances in the division, scoring 56 times, and picked up The Football League Championship Player of the Year accolade while being inducted into the PFA Team of the Year after helping the Clarets gain promotion to the Premier League in 2015.

BOURNEMOUTH, ENGLAND - MAY 13: Charlie Daniels of AFC Bournemouth tackles Andre Gray of Burnley during the Premier League match between AFC Bournemouth and Burnley at Vitality Stadium on May 13, 2017 in Bournemouth, England. (Photo by Alex Broadway/Getty Images)

Fellow free agent Christie, an international team-mate of North End captain Alan Browne, has clocked up 265 games in the Championship during spells at Coventry City, Derby County, Middlesbrough, Fulham, Nottingham Forest (loan) and Derby County (loan). The Republic of Ireland defender, 29, was a two-time play-off winner with the Cottagers.

Goalkeeper Woodman, 25, is the youngest of the quartet, but has already familiarised himself with the Championship. The ex-England Under 21 international, who has slipped down the pecking order at Newcastle United, won the Golden Glove prize in 2020-21 when on loan at Swansea City.

The FIFA U-20 World Cup and Toulon Tournament winner kept 20 clean sheets that season, two ahead of Norwich City stopper Tim Krul.

Finally, Villarreal defender Xavi Quintilla is also believed to be attracting interest from Liverpudlian Lowe. The 25-year-old, who was on loan at Leganés last term in the Spanish Segunda Division, played twice against the Lilywhites during a temporary stay with Norwich City in 2020-21.

NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, ENGLAND - AUGUST 25: Freddie Woodman of Newcastle United fails to save a penalty from Charlie Taylor of Burnley in the shootout during the Carabao Cup Second Round match between Newcastle United and Burnley at St. James Park on August 25, 2021 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

He featured in the 2-2 draw at Carrow Road, when Przemyslaw Placheta rescued a point for the Canaries late on, and started the stalemate at Deepdale when Brad Potts equalised with seconds of the game remaining.

Lowe concluded: "I am not saying I won't sign League One players, but we've done that before as a football club and we need to sign established Championship players, people who are ready to go.

"We haven't got an arm and a leg to go and just splash the cash; what I need is players who want to come to the Championship and play for Preston."