PNE eyeing transfer targets ahead of opening of window

Preston North End's Jordan Hugill
Preston North End's Jordan Hugill
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Preston have started laying the groundwork ahead of the January transfer window, one in which they are hoping to strike early in.

A handful of targets have been identified as Alex Neil looks to strengthen certain areas of the PNE squad.

The task is now to be in a position to land them early in the window.

However, North End would be prepared to wait that bit longer to land a target if the need arose.

When it comes to which specific positions they are looking to bolster in the New Year, PNE are keeping their cards close to their chest.

But midfield cover is likely to be high priority, more so in the holding role.

Both Ben Pearson and John Welsh have missed games this season through injury, with Pearson’s liking for a yellow card leaving him vulnerable to suspension.

The attack will also need attention, bearing in mind the absence of Sean Maguire for three or four months after hamstring surgery.

There is also the question of Jordan Hugill’s future to consider, North End having batted-off lots of interest in him during the summer.

If Hugill was to stay, they might still want cover for him.

It will be interesting to see what defensive business they do in January.

At the moment, PNE are in the midst of a major shortage at the back.

Eight defenders were ruled out by suspension, injury and illness at one stage.

That was something of a perfect storm, one unlikely to repeated.

The situation should ease considerably over the next few weeks.

In the shorter term, Neil will still be doing a head count for Friday’s clash with Bolton at Deepdale.

Darnell Fisher became the latest defender to add his name to the casualty list when he suffered a groin strain at Ipswich a week last Saturday.

He is touch-and-go for the Bolton game.

In September, Fisher had a similar injury which only kept him out for one game, so the international break might have come at a good time.

Of the players ruled out in the games before Ipswich, Josh Earl and Calum Woods are the closest to being fit.

The pair came off at half-time against Aston Villa with medial ligament strains.

Neil revealed subsequently that both injuries were grade one – that the least serious.

However, there is still the chance that the Bolton game might come too soon.

Ben Davies is progressing well after having an operation to remove his appendix.

He had surgery on October 28, Neil putting the recovery time at a ‘minimum of three weeks’ and perhaps more in the four-six week bracket.