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Transfer deadline day: Preston boss Alex Neil has his eyes fixed on signing a centre forward

Preston North End boss Alex Neil says his recruitment focus is trained on a new striker but whether that happens before today’s transfer deadline or during the loan window, remains to be seen.

The 5pm deadline is a ‘soft’ cut-off for Football League clubs, with loans permitted for another 22 days.

Preston North End manager Alex Neil

Preston North End manager Alex Neil

They can do loans with a view to permanent transfers or standard loans until the end of the month.

After signing Manchester City winger Brandon Barker on loan earlier in the week to cover Billy Bodin’s six-month absence, a striker would be the last piece of the jigsaw.

Neil always knew landing a striker would be the hardest task of the window,

And he insists the club are giving him their full backing in his striker search.

“The one thing I do want to stress is that we are trying to make deals happen,” Neil told the Post.

“Any suggestion there is no backing or anything like that, is absolute nonsense.

“The club and myself are working together as hard as we can to try and strengthen the squad.

“Getting someone down the middle is important but they are the hardest to find.

“If you look at the summer, we went and got five players done before pre-season, no problem.

“To try and find that guy who makes the difference at the top end of the pitch can prove extremely difficult.

“You could interview any Championship manager and they will say exactly the same thing – we are all looking for another forward.”

Neil admits the transfer market does have a number of challenges.

In the main, budget does mean he shops at the younger end of the market rather than get ‘proven’ players in.

Said Neil: “If I could a player right now, I would walk and get him at his house!

“The fact is, any deal will be done as quickly as quickly as we can get it done.

“A problem with transfers is that they can get complex.

“People think it is simple, that you just phone up, ask if a player is available, say ‘thank you very much’ and we’ll play him on Saturday.

“It doesn’t work that way, there are a lot of moving parts.

“There are agents, the club, the lad himself, other people who try to get involved in the deal who aren’t anything to do with it, the finance thing.

“Then you’re going against competitors – other teams who are trying to get into him and work a different angle.

“But as we have shown, as soon as we get an opportunity to get a deal done which we feel will benefit us, we will do it.

“We got Brandon Barker in on Tuesday who we think will give us something different to what we have got. Brandon is a real talent.”