`

PNE in Numbers: Goal return is one area Preston will be looking to improve this season

Goals, goals, goals.

ALSO READ: Louis Moult reveals why he expects to be in the goals for Preston North End
PNE’s potency in the final third will be a focus this season when it comes to determining further progress under Alex Neil.

Louis Moult  and Callum Robinson will hope to be in the goals for PNE this season

Louis Moult and Callum Robinson will hope to be in the goals for PNE this season

Only Millwall, 56 to North End’s 57, scored fewer goals in the top half of the Championship last season.

You then had to cast your eyes down to Norwich in 14th for the next goals total lower than the Lilywhites’, the Canaries managing just 49 in 46 games last term.

Improving the tally to 60 and beyond will be no easy task for Neil and his side.

They start the season without the two players who managed double figures in 2017-2018.

Jordan Hugill, who got two in the League Cup and eight in the league, left for West Ham in January with his total of 10 only matched by Sean Maguire in the latter stages of the campaign with all of his goals coming in the Championship.

Much was therefore expected of the Irishman with fans predicting some big numbers in what was set to be a full, injury-free season.

His hamstring problem, set to rule him out for eight weeks is a real blow though.

Still, attention now turns to both the transfer market and those already at the club who can now step up.

After Maguire and Hugill the goals were fairly spread around with Alan Browne finishing a breakthrough campaign with nine, Tom Barkhuizen amassing eight and Callum Robinson seven.

They will all be looking to improve on those totals this time around but there will also be plenty of attention on Louis Moult.

A stop-start first few months saw him score just the twice following his January arrival from Motherwell.

His stats north of the border though, show just what he can do.

Having started his career at Stoke, Moult returned to English football with 50 goals in 98 games, one in two seen as a fine ratio for any front man.

Eighteen came in each of his two full seasons in the Scottish Premiership with a further 14 coming in the half season before his move to Deepdale.

If he can come even close to finding that kind of form - Moult will become a firm North End favourite.

Pre-season is pre-season but the signs were good in front of goal all round.

Neil’s men scored 25 goals in their six pre-season friendlies and while the level of opposition was at times far lower than they will face, there were also some tough tests along the way.

The proof will be in the pudding, starting when QPR visit Deepdale on Saturday.