Preston boss Alex Neil is confident that he can push the club on to greater heights next season

PNE boss Alex Neil
PNE boss Alex Neil

Preston manager Alex Neil does not see the summer as a transitional period, more so an opportunity to really push the club forward.

While disappointed with how PNE dropped off the pace in the closing weeks of the season to finish 14th in the Championship, Neil says a fully-fit squad bolstered by some close-season signings gives him plenty of confidence for the 2019/20 campaign.

North End’s dealings in the transfer market will be key in the next couple of months, so too Neil getting his walking wounded back available.

Asked if this summer was one of transition, Neil said: “I wouldn’t say that, no.

“That would suggest there is stuff which needs ripping up and starting again which is not the case here.

“We have a really strong base at Preston, we have the makings of a very good team in this division.

“We’ll have key players back for starters, Billy Bodin and Josh Harrop.

“Billy was out for all of the season and Josh most of it, both of them are really good players.

“Andrew Hughes will be back, so will Tom Barkhuizen, Brad Potts too.

“We have got the basis of a very good squad and we need to top that up, improve it.

“I want us to take the next step forward, push on and show our promise.”

Neil has gaps to fill in the squad and areas of the pitch to strengthen.

He has spoken already about wanting to bring in some more experience.

That was something North End lacked at times in the campaign just finished.

With Tom Clarke injured for the last couple of months and Paul Huntington on the bench since January, the one senior player on the pitch was Paul Gallagher.

Ideally, Neil wants players who have experience of the Championship elsewhere and don’t need a lengthy settling in period.

Midfield and up front are priority areas to strengthen, while they could look for a winger and possibly a left-back too.

A creative midfielder is the type they want, a ‘technician’ to help unpick defences.

In attack, Lukas Nmecha’s return to Manchester City at the end of his loan spell opens up a slot.

Likewise, Brandon Barker going back to City could mean another winger on the wanted list this summer.

It’s unlikely that PNE will rush through their business but would like a lot of it done before pre-season starts at the end of June.

However, if a target is worth waiting for, they will be patient.

For Championship clubs, the window for permanent transfers and loan deals shuts on Thursday, August 8.