Preston North End boss Alex Neil welcomes the arrival of Ben Whiteman and updates Covid-19 situation
Preston North End manager Alex Neil says new boy Ben Whiteman is ready for the challenge of Championship football.
Whiteman's move from Doncaster Rovers was completed on Thursday morning, although the deal had been struck earlier in the week.
Neil is delighted to have him on board, with Whiteman one of his main transfer targets for January.
With doubts over the Deepdale futures of Ben Pearson and Daniel Johnson, North End worked hard to get 24-year-old Whiteman on board.
He will be in the squad for Saturday's clash with Bristol City at Ashton Gate.
Speaking at his pre-match press conference via Zoom, Neil said: "Ben is a player we have been looking at for a while.
"It has been well documented in terms of some of the other lads and we have needed to act in this window to make sure we have got positions covered.
"It has been a long process in terms of getting lads to re-sign, we have made good progress with Alan now but unfortunately with the others at the moment we have needed to act to make sure we are not left short.
"Ben certainly fits the bill for us and we are delighted to get him.
"When you are putting in the type of performances Ben has in League One, the next step naturally is to test yourself at Championship level.
"He has good pedigree, came through Manchester United's youth ranks and then went to Sheffield United at a really young age and wasn't quite ready then to help them get promoted.
"Since then he has learned his trade at Doncaster, became captain at a really young age which shows his leadership skills.
"I think he is now ready for the next stage of his career which is to hopefully help us.
"He has certainly not come cheap but he is within our structure, within what we have paid in the past for players.
"We have a certain way of doing things which is working within our means. We have spent money and that is pleasing.
"At this level, with how competitive the Championship is, it is difficult to compete at the top end if you don't spend some cash.
"We have had to spend to replace the quality which could potentially leave us and also give ourselves the opportunity to be competitive."
Whiteman joined his new team-mates for training this morning.
It is the first time the Euxton training ground has been open this week as North End tried to keep on top of a potential Covid-19 outbreak.
All the players, coaching staff and backroom staff were tested twice this week, and will be again before the weekend.
Neil said: This is our first day in this week, we have had a bit of a scare with Covid. Largely it has been staff affected rather than players.
"I think we will only have one or two players affected by it.
"We had to shut the training ground down Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday to await tests coming back."
It is understood the staff affected are not those who were forced to self-isolate before the Wycombe game last week.
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