PNE to bolster strikeforce

Preston North End's Joe Garner
Preston North End's Joe Garner
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Preston North End will look to add two strikers to their squad in the summer in a bid to improve on this season’s goal tally.

The Lilywhites managed just 45 goals in 46 Championship matches.

Strong defending at the other end meant they had a zero goal difference.

Midfielder Daniel Johnson finished as PNE’s leading scorer with nine goals, eight of those in the league.

Not for 31 years had the club’s top scorer been in single figures, Peter Houghton netting nine – six in the league and three in the League Cup – in 1984/85.

In the campaign just finished, the strikers found goals hard to come by.

Hence it being an area which North End manager Simon Grayson wants to add two new faces to, according to club sources.

Joe Garner scored six goals, two of them penalties, with Eoin Doyle on target four times during his loan spell from Cardiff City.

Jordan Hugill managed five, three of them in the league, including the winners at Bolton and Blackburn.

On his return from a long absence after knee surgery, Jermaine Beckford shook off the rust to net twice.

In the first half of the season, Will Keane scored twice before cutting short his loan spell and returning to Manchester United.

The view inside Deepdale is that two summer signings will strengthen the competition.

Ideally, one of them would have Championship experience.

During the season, Grayson admitted that the struggle for goals had come as something of a surprise.

He had predicted more problems at the other end, with the defence having relatively little experience of the division.

As it happened, they proved a tight unit, with there being more of a struggle up front.

Beckford’s lengthy absence was an obvious huge blow, the striker having netted 18 goals in the promotion season.

With Garner having to play without Beckford, and often on his own down the middle, his sharpness was blunted.

North End’s 45 league goals was their lowest tally in a 46-game campaign.

The previous lowest was in 1987/88 when John McGrath’s side scored 48 – again as a newly-promoted side.

Although the emphasis is always on strikers to score the bulk of the goals, Grayson will look too at the service up to the front.

He will need to recruit down the left side, whether that is by trying to bring back Adam Reach or Callum Robinson after their loan spells, or with other targets.

On the other side, Chris Humphrey has the chance to press his claim, the winger having missed the majority of this season with a fractured shin bone.

Meanwhile, PNE had the eighth biggest away support in the Championship, with an average following of 1,506.

Leeds had the highest average, with 2,807.