New Preston striker Louis Moult caught Alex Neil's eye on debut
Alex Neil was pleased with the contribution of new signing Louis Moult on his Preston debut.
The striker’s 21-minute cameo against Birmingham was one of the few bright spots of the 1-1 draw, a game in which PNE were well below-par.
Moult’s bow after signing from Motherwell at the start of the month had been delayed by a hamstring strain.
He recovered sufficiently to get a place on the bench on Saturday and could now be in line for a start in the FA Cup clash with Sheffield United this weekend.
North End boss Neil told the Post: “To be fair to Louis, I thought he did relatively well in the circumstances.
“He worked hard, took the ball in well and had a couple of good lay-offs.
“Although he’s not a big lump like Jordan Hugill, he puts himself in for headers and challenges, tries to keep the ball high up the pitch.
“At the time he came on against Birmingham, we had to do something to stem the flow a bit. I went with two up top to try and keep the ball up the pitch a bit more.
“It eased the pressure to an extent, I didn’t think it swayed the game by any means but it meant we weren’t camped in our own half.”
Moult’s £450,000 move to Deepdale from Motherwell was agreed in December and officially went through when the transfer window opened on January 1.
His last game for ’Well was on December 2 against Celtic when he pulled his hamstring.
PNE had initially hoped he would be fit to play some part of the FA Cup tie at Wycombe on January 6.
But it took him slightly longer to recover, the club not wanting to take any risks with a hamstring injury.
Moult, 25, is one of three signings made by Preston so far this month, Billy Bodin and Connor Simpson the others.
Bodin was an unused sub against Birmingham, having started the Wycombe and Millwall matches.
Simpson was given a run in the youth team on Saturday, the 17-year-old striker netting a hat-trick in a 5-2 victory over Blackpool at Cottam.
With his last appearance for Hartlepool having been a brief run-out as a substitute on New Year’s Day, North End were keen for him to play 90 minutes in the Under-18s.
Neil said last week that the teenager would get a chance to impress in training during the second half of the season rather than be loaned straight out for first-team experience.
Meanwhile, North End will have a big following backing them at Sheffield United.
Around 1,700 of their 2,300 allocation has been sold, with the club filling 18 coaches.
Season-ticket holders can buy a match ticket for £10 adults, £5 concessions and £2 Under-18s.