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Preston North End transfer news: Six new signings touted, Championship boss emerges as favourite to replace Alex Neil

Preston North End are facing a tricky task in the coming weeks and months.

Wednesday, 24th March 2021, 8:53 am

The Deepdale outfit parted company with long-term manager Alex Neil recently, and are currently on a run of five Championship matches without a win.

Nine points clear of the relegation places with eight games to go this term, the threat of dropping down to League One is still not entirely out of the question, and interim boss Frank McAvoy will know that he has to galvanise this group of players to fully secure North End’s spot in the second tier next season.

Assuming he can keep Preston up – and even given their dire run of form, the expectation will be that he can – then recruitment analyst Oli O’Connell is expecting a busy summer at Deepdale.

Speaking on the From the Finney podcast, he said: "I think defensively there is major, major work to be done and not just in terms of being able to defend but being able to build attacks as well.

"I think that's a massive part – Ben Davies, there was no question marks about how well he could develop the play, Ben Pearson sitting just ahead of him, Paul Gallagher on occasions just ahead of him.

"So that side of our game, without those three core players, has completely changed how we can play - Ben Whiteman needs good players around him, so for me we need a couple of centre-backs who can play and a couple of athletic full-backs who can attack.

You can probably work around the midfield; you need a new striking department.

"I don't think I buy the under-23s as much as others - you can have the under-23s, or you can recruit good, young players and bed them into the squad. I think when you are doing neither, that's when there is a problem and we've been doing neither.

"We've been signing 25, 26, 27-year-olds from League One with very little ceiling and then that's how I think we've ended up with where are are now.

"For me, we need five or six defenders and I think there is going to be double figures for players coming in - it's a massive job and behind the scenes is as important as the next manager."

Preston have won just twice in the Championship since they sold Ben Davies to Premier League champions Liverpool in the January transfer window. The 25-year-old is still yet to make his debut for the Reds.

Elsewhere, Wycombe Wanderers manager Gareth Ainsworth has emerged as the bookies' favourite to replace Neil in the dugout on a permanent basis.

At the time of writing, SkyBet price the 47-year-old at 4/5, with his nearest rival, ex-North End stalwart Callum Davidson, priced at 8/1.

Ainsworth’s Wanderers have endured a difficult debut campaign in the second tier, and are currently 11 points adrift of safety having won just six of their 38 matches so far.

The manager has a career win percentage of 38.8% from 457 matches in the dugout.

We’ve gathered the rest of today’s Championship speculation below:

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