Dave Seddon’s PNE pressview: What next for Eoin Doyle?

Eoin Doyle
Eoin Doyle

Eoin Doyle could soon be giving Preston North End some thinking to do as he enters the last month of his loan spell with Oldham.

The Irishman’s time with the Latics in League One has gone better than anyone could have envisaged – hand on heart, him included.

Going into this weekend, Doyle has scored 13 goals in 16 appearances.

He has found his eye in front of goal, the way Doyle struck the second of a pair against Rochdale last week the sign of a striker playing with bags of confidence.

The question being asked by some North End fans now is has he done enough to merit a second look back at Deepdale?

His loan at Oldham runs until early January, so he’s got another eight matches to maintain current form.

Doyle’s fortunes have turned around considerably in the last three months.

When Preston made him available for loan in August, there was hardly a queue forming for his services.

He went to Oldham in the final few hours of deadline day, links with Wigan and Plymouth Argyle during the summer coming to nothing.

The chances of seeing him back at Preston looked remote, but could the door still be ajar?

Those who argue he is worth another look, make the case that Doyle is scoring in a division which North End have shopped in before.

If it was another striker banging them in for a League One club, there is a very good chance that he would be on PNE’s radar.

The fact it is League One is the counter argument made by those supporters who think his time is up at Deepdale.

They reason that Doyle simply hasn’t delivered the goals in the Championship, both with North End and Cardiff City.

History shows that he knows where the net is in the division below.

In the first-half of the 2014/15 campaign, Doyle scored 25 league and cup goals for Chesterfield who were newly-promoted to League One – he got three against Preston.

The season before in League Two, he has struck 13 times for the Spireites.

After stepping-up to the Championship, he scored five goals at Cardiff.

In his two seasons with North End – the first as a loan player and the second when fully signed-up – Doyle hit the net five times in the league and twice in League Cup action.

Hardly earth-shattering stuff but those wanting to have another look could put forward the case of where he was played in the team.

Rarely did he get the chance to play as an out-and-out striker in the manner of Jordan Hugill or Joe Garner.

His last appearance in a competitive game for North End was the 1-0 win against Burton on January 2 – he left later that month for a loan stint at Portsmouth.

That afternoon, Doyle played wide right in a 4-5-1 system.

Alex Neil inherited him when taking over as Preston boss in July and ran the rule over Doyle in pre-season.

Neil clearly didn’t raise any objections to Doyle being loaned out in August.

Speaking about him in October, Neil said: “Eoin is a good player. The way that we play doesn’t necessarily suit Eoin’s style.

“That was the reason we let him go out on loan.”

It remains to be seen whether in January there will be a re-think.

Whatever does happen, Doyle’s stock is a great deal higher now than it was back in August.

There won’t be a shortage of interest in him, certainly not from League One clubs who are on the look-out for a goalscorer.

An option for North End might be to use January as a time to have another look at the front man.

That could just be a case of having him back around the squad in training and take things from there.

If he’s not what is needed, there would be the scope to find him a new home and get a fee for him on the back of what he has been doing in an Oldham shirt.

The player might fancy a fresh start somewhere else, but another crack at the Championship would be just as appealing.

It is all guess work at the moment, with Doyle’s loan having another six weeks or so to run.

But every goal he scores at Oldham will plant another thought in North End’s mind as to the next step.

I don’t think anyone is suggesting he comes back as the main striker, whatever happens with others in the January window.

But would a couple of weeks working back at North End do any harm?

Meanwhile, PNE’s return to winning ways in midweek was most welcome and given the opposition, perhaps not as surprising as 14th beating 4th might have appeared.

They have had the sign over Bristol City for the last few years, unbeaten in nine games against the Robins.

Football can produce these quirks, just look at how the boot is on the other foot when it comes to North End’s results against Brentford.

Going back to the late 80s and early 90s, Preston always seemed to do well in their games with Mansfield.

It helped that the clubs seemed to draw each other in the various cup competitions every season.