Preston North End boss Alex Neil has an open mind over summer transfer targets

Tom Clarke has been missing since February
Tom Clarke has been missing since February

Preston will ‘keep their net spread wide’ this summer as they look to bring players to Deepdale, says Alex Neil.

Lilywhites manager Neil has transfer targets in mind but knows that others who they didn’t think would be available might come on to the market.

Having put together a squad mainly of players at the younger end of the age range, Neil wants more experience this summer.

A bit of extra know-how is what he feels North End 
have missed at times this season.

If some experienced heads can be added to the core of young players, Neil thinks it is a blend which could see them challenge seriously for a place in the Championship’s 
top six.

Neil said: “You plan for what positions you would like to strengthen.

“Players will crop up who you didn’t plan for, there will be difficulties in getting certain players who you 
want.

“We have got to keep our net spread wide and our minds open in terms of what might come up.

“We know what we want but there is a difference in knowing what you want and getting what you want.

“But we will do our utmost to get who we want.”

When Neil talks about the need to bring in experience, 
it is not players at the tail end of their careers he is looking at.

He wants players who have experience of playing in the Championship, who know the level which is needed and can settle quickly.

It is probably that sort of experience which was lacking in the last few weeks of the season as North End fell from seventh place to a 14th-placed finish.

Said Neil: “This season there have been some really good batches of form, but there have also been batches when we have been poor. We have ended on a poor note, which is disappointing.

“At the moment we have a few of our more experienced players missing.

“Brad Potts is missing, Tom Barkhuizen has been missing, Andrew Hughes, Tom Clarke, Ben Pearson and Billy Bodin have all been out.

“They are some of the older guys, mid-20s in some of their cases, who have played a number of matches.

“At Brentford we had some of the younger boys in there for whom this was their first season in the Championship.

“Over the pace, they found it difficult to continue their form at the top end of what they are capable of.”

Neil was meeting his 
squad today to review the season and look ahead to next season.

All will get a one-to-one chat with the manager as part of the planning for the 2019-29 campaign.

In addition, the players will get their summer training and fitness plan, so they are in the right shape when they come back for pre-season.