Preston North End manager targets leaner squad and sharper competition for places

Ryan Lowe is looking forward to seeing a ‘shoot-out’ for places in Preston North End’s team next season.

By Dave Seddon
Tuesday, 17th May 2022, 8:00 am

PNE manager Lowe has a busy summer of recruitment ahead as he looks to put together a squad of quality rather than quantity – at one stage in the campaign just finished the number of senior players on the books numbered in the late 20s.

The decks have been cleared with 13 players freed from the first-team squad and three more made available for transfer.

Lowe said: “The group of players we have got is fantastic and what we have got to do now is make sure we have 22 players who can compete with each other and try to find their way into the team.

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Preston North End defender Bambo Diaby battles with Fulham's Neeskens Kebano at Craven Cottage

"I’ll be telling them it will be a straight shoot-out between you and your mate in that position. That is what I want to see, I want strong competition for places.

"We had competition for places before but I want that bit more quality, that extra layer of competition.

"If we recruit well, we will have a good squad of players for next season to try to get us to where we want to be.”

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As things stand, Lowe has a squad of 16 senior players plus the group of youngsters who have signed professional deals.

Bambo Diaby will be added to that number if he accepts North End’s offer of a new contract.

Centre-half Diaby is abroad at the moment and his agents are based overseas so that one won’t be done immediately.

He was the only senior out-of-contract player to be offered a deal having made four starts and three substitute appearances since signing in late January.

The squad number doesn’t include Josh Harrop, Matthew Olosunde and Tom Bayliss who have a year remaining on their contracts and have been transfer-listed.

North End’s recruitment will have to primarily focus on goalkeepers, wing-backs and strikers.

They don’t have a senior keeper in the squad, while attacking wing-backs are crucial to make Lowe’s preferred 3-5-2 system work.

Up front, Cameron Archer is back at parent club Aston Villa. North End do want to bring him back on loan but it might be later in pre-season when Villa make a decision on his future. So alternatives will have to be looked at.