January transfer window: Alex Neil ready to bolster his Preston squad

Preston North End manager Alex Neil
Preston North End manager Alex Neil

Preston boss Alex Neil is ready to go shopping in January to give his injury ravaged squad a boost.

Neil currently has eight players nursing injuries, while Ben Pearson serves the second of a four-match ban when the Lilywhites play host to Aston Villa today.

Although the queue for the treatment room will shorten in time, three of the injuries are long-term.

Callum Robinson won’t be back until March following surgery to repair a damaged hamstring tendon, while Josh Harrop and Billy Bodin are out of the season with ruptured cruciate ligaments.

It is that area of the pitch where PNE need to do some business – Walsall winger Josh Ginnelly looks set to land at Deepdale early in the window to start the ball rolling.

Ginnelly, 21, who had three years on Burnley’s books, has been left out of the Saddlers’ last two matches with a view to him leaving in the window.

Neil told the Post: “This season we consciously went with a smaller squad, the reason being that is allowed us to get the best quality of player we could.

“If we’d gone with 25 or 26, what happens is that you need to get some guys who have got less quality and will take less money – you are fleshing out the squad.

“But that means some of the players you bring in aren’t going to be good enough.

“The problem we have got is that we have a full quota of players and eight of them are missing.

“Now we need to spend over. Normally you could trade three or four to bring three or four in.

“At the moment we cannot afford to trade anybody – if we did we are going to struggle for numbers.”

The window opens on New Year’s Day but any new signings would be unable to play in PNE’s visit to Rotherham that afternoon as they have to be registered the day before a game.

Neil said: “We need to do some work, we know what we need to do and have spoken about that numerous times.

“At a fans forum earlier in the season we spoke about how we had missed out on certain targets or certain areas we wanted to fill.

“That situation hasn’t changed.

“We have three players missing long term at the top end so we need to recruit and make sure that area is topped up and we have enough there.

“Here we work within our parameters, that has been the case since I have been here.

“That is not something which has been sprung upon us, it is the simple fact of where we are.

“We need to get the best quality we can for what we have got – when we get them we will work with them to make them better.”