The inside track on Preston North End's loan signing of Aston Villa's Cameron Archer

Preston North End no doubt had a head start in the race to take striker Cameron Archer on loan from Aston Villa.

By Dave Seddon
Tuesday, 25th January 2022, 7:00 am

Ryan Lowe being a long-standing friend of Villa manager Steven Gerrard moved things in the Lilywhites' favour but plenty of hard work still had to be done behind the scenes to get him to Deepdale.

It was no given that 20-year-old Archer would end up at Deepdale just because Lowe and Gerrard were pals from their younger days in Liverpool.

A deal had to be done between the clubs on contribution to wages and the striker himself had to know Deepdale was the right destination for him.

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Cameron Archer in Premier League action for Aston Villa against Manchester United at Old Trafford in September Pic: Getty Images

When he was Plymouth Argyle boss, Lowe had enquired about Archer's availability on loan.

That interest long pre-dated Gerrard's arrival at Villa Park in November, the former Liverpool and England midfielder being appointed by Villa meant Lowe had a way in.

North End knew about Archer before Lowe became their manager.

They, like a lot of clubs, enquired about Archer last summer. Back then, Villa didn't want to let him out on loan, preferring to have him around the first-team squad and see how he developed.

Aston Villa manager Steven Gerrard is a good friend of PNE boss Ryan Lowe

His first involvement with the Villa first-team this season in August couldn't have gone much better, Archer scoring a hat-trick in a 6-1 win at Barrow in a televised Carabao Cup tie.

He was to score in the next round against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, Villa bowing out on penalties after 90 minutes produced a 1-1 draw.

Archer's Premier League debut came three days after the Chelsea game, against Manchester United at Old Trafford.

He came on in the 86th minute with the game goalless, Villa scoring late on to win 1-0. Those games all came under their previous manager Dean Smith.

PNE manager Ryan Lowe gives instructions to Emil Riis at Swansea

After North End registered their interest in Archer following the opening of the transfer window, things started to move towards a loan deal being done last week.

Jordan Storey's loan move away from PNE to Sheffield Wednesday was a big factor.

With the Owls paying a decent-sized contribution to Storey's wages, it created some room on the Preston wage budget for an incoming deal.

Adam O'Reilly's switch to St Patrick's Athletic on loan also freed up some space on the wage bill, not as significant as Storey's move did, but it helped.

PNE are understood to have finalised details of the loan with Villa on Sunday.

Relations between the two clubs are good, having done business previously for Callum Robinson - they took him on loan three times and later signed him for youth compensation - Daniel Johnson and Andre Green.

Before the weekend, Lowe had met Archer on a Zoom call to discuss the football side of the move.

Members of Archer's family and his representatives were on the call to as Lowe delivered a presentation detailing why North End was the right destination.

The deal was completed on Monday morning when Archer arrived at the Euxton training ground to put pen to paper.

His first training session was Monday afternoon, Lowe having had the players in slightly later than normal to enable a longer recovery after Swansea - it also enabled Archer's paperwork to be registered before getting down to work.

It is the first incoming deal of Lowe's time as PNE manager and one which has been well received by the supporters.

The focus now switches to The Hawthorns on Wednesday night where North End take on West Bromwich Albion.

It is a quick return to the Midlands for Walsall-born Archer who joined Villa's academy when he was eight.

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