Have you caught your breath yet?
Over the course of the last few days of the January Transfer Window, Deepdale has been abuzz with news of incomings and confirmed signings only to then plunge the fanbase into heartbreak with not one, not two but THREE potential outgoings of key players.
It promises to be even busier over the next few days, with a new centre-back, right-back and winger needed before the window slams shut. It’s truly never boring as a Preston North End fan is it?
A North End Reunion For Greg Cunningham
It began rather well. There were rumblings that a familiar face was on his way back to Deepdale on loan and that was confirmed when Greg Cunningham agreed a deal to come back to us until the end of the season.
Although his last few seasons have been questionable – through no fault of his own but instead because of injury troubles – he represents a solid piece of business. On his day, as proven by his last spell at North End, he is a superb full-back option. Forever reliable on the left, we were distraught to see him leave and are thrilled to welcome him back to the side.
Defensively and offensively he is solid and already provides a better option in that spot than Andrew Hughes, Joe Rafferty and Josh Earl (who could be shipped out on a loan deal himself anyway).
The only issue as mentioned is his injury issues. He’s struggled to stay fit recently but if North End can keep him healthy, then he’ll prove to be an astute signing, of that there is no doubt.
Cancel the party, there’s no more Pearo.
From then on, it was downhill. The entire North End fanbase was taken on an emotional rollercoaster ride. Still elated over the Cunningham signing, North End announced that midfield battler and club hero Ben Pearson was headed to Bournemouth.
We’d seen it coming of course, with the player clearly wanting out of Deepdale and willing to see out his contract at the club without penning a new one. However, the deal happened so quickly that it took everybody by surprise at the speed in which it materialised.
Not only that but North End will have to endure facing the former Man United man in the league. Rather than sealing a deal to Celtic or a Premier League team as many of our fans expected, he joined a Championship rival in Bournemouth.
Having been the ones enjoying the midfielder’s constant battling, work-rate, defensive displays and wind-ups, we will now have to be on the receiving end of them when we play them next in the league.
It’s a blow that is somewhat softened by the signings of Ben Whiteman and Jayson Molumby but it’s hard to disagree that there will still be a Pearson shaped hole in our midfield and our hearts.
Starman Darnell Fisher Seals Middlesbrough Deal
No sooner had news emerged of a Pearson switch to Bournemouth than yet another player was rumoured to be heading elsewhere, with the report again seemingly being plucked from thin air.
It was the turn of Starman Darnell Fisher to be linked with a move elsewhere, with Middlesbrough lodging a bid for his services. Within a day of the rumour emerging, Fisher was gone.
It is most definitely a blow to lose another important player. Fisher was never really considered as one of the ‘big four’ that needed his contract renewing by many fans and yet his deal was also set to expire in the summer.
You could see the difference that the right-back he made when he was in the side – he may have been prone to a yellow card but with the alternatives at full-back being Andrew Hughes, Joe Rafferty and Josh Earl, it’s easy to see that Fisher was arguably our best option in that area.
In fact, he was key to the way we played with superb dynamic runs forward and he displayed an end product better than most of our other defences – not in terms of goal scoring ability but in terms of getting the ball into the right areas whether via a cross, a pass or even by bringing the ball forward and pushing us up.
It truly is a shame to see yet another valuable player depart – to a division rival no less – and it means that we ideally need to bring in a right-back before the window closes and time is running out.
Will Ben Davies Depart Now or in Summer?
Let’s make things even worse for you. We all know Ben Davies looks likely to leave and there were reports that he’s already agreed a deal to join Celtic at the end of the season. However, fresh sources claimed that Davies might actually not wait till the end of the campaign to make his move to Scotland, with Celtic eager to bring him in before the deadline.
Although Preston are seemingly confident that he’ll stay and see out his current deal at the very least, it can’t be completely ruled out until the window slams shut.
If Davies was to leave, it would leave us very bare defensively now. We may have replacements for Pearson in the form of Ryan Ledson, Ben Whiteman or Jayson Molumby (take your pick with any of those three) but if Davies leaves and with Fisher gone, it means our defence would be extremely patched up.
We’d have Josh Earl or Andrew Hughes at left-back and then a central defensive pairing of Huntington and Storey (with Bauer out injured until summer) and then Joe Rafferty at right-back.
It’s very much a League One standard defence and it means that we should really aim to strengthen it before the window closes – or face a remainder of the season that could be let down by our defence.
Will you be happy to see the window close? Happy with the business done? Let us know on Twitter via @VitalPNE