Tom Sandells' Press View: Things are coming together slowly for Preston North End

Preston North End close out their pre-season preparations this afternoon as they play Leicester City at Deepdale.
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It is a good game to have to finish off their schedule against a strong side with plenty of energy and high ambitions for the season.

North End often throw in a game or two against Premier League opposition, Newcastle United and Burnley in recent years for example, and it can be a good barometer of where the team is at.

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They also generally fare pretty well in these types of games, admittedly they are also usually further along in their pre-season schedule than the elite teams that take extra time in the summer for their international stars.

Skipper Alan Browne nets the winner in midweek.Skipper Alan Browne nets the winner in midweek.
Skipper Alan Browne nets the winner in midweek.

The Premier League season this year starts a couple of weeks after the Championship, so in that regard there is no rush just yet for the Foxes. In fact, as North End will be playing opening day encounter with Wigan Athletic, Leicester will be preparing to face Spanish giants Sevilla in their final friendly.

The game is also a chance for the young Lilywhites’ supporters to see some stars of the game, in Jamie Vardy, Youri Tielemans and Kasper Schemeichel amongst others.

The Foxes will be bringing their best side, as it is a part of the contract they signed with North End, which should provide excitement both on and off the pitch.

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It is time that everything should sort of comes together for Preston, although it likely can’t.

New man Ben Woodburn in action against former side Hearts on Wednesday.New man Ben Woodburn in action against former side Hearts on Wednesday.
New man Ben Woodburn in action against former side Hearts on Wednesday.

In an ideal world they would have had all of their transfer business done by now and they could parade their new men at Deepdale as they take in their new surroundings and get used to playing with their teammates.

But that is not the case, so they must make do.

PNE boss Ryan Lowe still seems quite calm about the situation, I sensed a tinge of frustration speaking to him after the game against Accrington Stanley last Saturday but that had gone by the time we spoke after Hearts on Wednesday.

They have deals lined up, he said, and it seems like they’re just waiting for a go ahead from certain individuals – be them other clubs, managers or players – to get them over the line.

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That isn’t a bad position to be in but of course is still not the perfect spot.

Certain deals were not possible to do before now, Preston had to wait until the talent from higher up the pyramid got back from respective tours.

It may be that they’re on the cusp of the first team and were given a chance to impress, or were needed to make up the numbers, either way it’s the same outcome.

Premier League loans have served PNE well over the years so that area of the transfer market is important to get right as it can be a wasted opportunity if you get it wrong – see Stephy Mavididi compared to Cameron Archer during their days in PR1.

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All will be revealed, but not getting more reinforcements in before the start of the season whilst not the end of the world would be very disappointing.

Lowe has been clear about where he wants to strengthen – right wing back, left wing back and up front – and has shown a refreshing willingness and openness when it comes to transfers and even specific players during the window.

There is no point in writing off the window when there is still over a month left to go, but added strength before the season begins would certainly not go amiss.

There are at least now new kits for the new campaign, and though they are not anything groundbreaking they do their job very well.

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Not least do they cover the skin, they are also clean enough designs and offer up the colours most fans will want.

The return to a yellow kit is a welcome one and I must say when you see it in person it does grow on you.

I am no expert on the shades of yellows nor the nuances of the colour but it was a good – almost proper PNE – yellow that was on show at Accrington.

The home kit looks traditional with such a simple design, just a navy trim ‘V’ neck collar, that perhaps would have got more credit had it not been produced by Nike and JustSport.

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The pricing for them is a shame, although very symptomatic of modern football, with families having to cough up just short of £100 for a youth kit, with name number and EFL patches – which I would say is probably the most important age range to keep fans interested in the club.

North End’s hands are tied to a point and they are stuck in their contract with JustSport for another 12 months but next season gives them a chance to show what they have been wanting to do for this time and that they have just been shackled by their previous deal.

It would be fantastic to see Deepdale in the middle of a sea of white, with affordable and presentable home shirts for everyone, that last.

In Par Group as the front of shirt sponsor too they have a local company backing them, rather than a betting firm like so they and so many have in the past, which has been another step in the right direction when their previous deal ran out.

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They have the chance to do so again when they sort their next kit manufacturer out.

Things are coming together for North End, slowly, but with the start of their Championship season just around the corner, they are still a little bit short of being at 100 per cent when they get underway at the DW.