Preston North End’s £1.2million man Ali McCann meets his new team-mates today

New boy Ali McCann was booking in at Preston North End for the first time today, with Frankie McAvoy keen for the midfielder to show what he is all about in English football after gathering a big reputation in Scotland.

By Dave Seddon
Friday, 10th September 2021, 8:00 am

McCann signed a week last Tuesday from St Johnstone in a £1.2m move but has been in Belfast and the Baltic states since on international duty with Northern Ireland.

Having played against Switzerland at Windsor Park on Wednesday night, North End gave McCann the chance to have a breather yesterday and sort things out in Scotland before reporting to Euxton this morning.

The 21-year-old will be in the squad for tomorrow’s game against Bristol City at Ashton Gate, so too fellow deadline-day signing Josh Murphy.

PNE new boy Ali McCann in action for Northern Ireland against Switzerland on Wednesday (Getty Images)

PNE head coach McAvoy says McCann gives him plenty of options with him able to fill a variety of midfield roles.

Comparisons have been made between McCann and Ben Pearson, who was sold in the January window, but McAvoy is reluctant to give him that sort of tag.

McAvoy said: “Ali was in a 3-4-3 at St Johnstone, he played in the midfield two.

“He is very energetic, he gets about the pitch, he makes tackles and is good on the ball.

“I see him as a six or an eight but watching Northern Ireland he was more of a 10.

“So Ali is an all-round midfielder, he’s got real potential and hopefully that can develop here at Preston.

“I don’t want to give him any link with anyone else, he’s here to be Ali McCann.

“St Johnstone didn’t want to lose him, they won two cups up there last season and Ali played in their Europa League qualification ties.

“There was a lot of interest from clubs in Scotland in him and for us to bring him here I think is a good coup.

“In pre-season we played against him and we’d been looking at him for a while.”

The other players who PNE had on international duty all arrived back in one piece over the last day or so.

McAvoy will be tempted to stick with the side which beat Swansea a fortnight ago but the additions of McCann and Murphy provide more of a selection headache.

North End yesterday revealed the 23 players who they have registered with the EFL for Championship games.

They have left two spaces free for now, bearing in mind they are giving a trial to Connor Wickham and are aware of the number of free agents currently about.

Paul Huntington, Josh Harrop, Jamie Thomas, Joe Rafferty and Connor Ripley have missed the initial cut, as has the injured Izzy Brown.

The two places in the squad can be filled at any time between now and January.