Preston North End Summer Squad Rundown: The Forwards


Over the summer, there will be a multitude of Preston players that are out of contract, leaving the club after the end of their loan deals and that will be offered to other clubs in a bid to offload them.

It really will be a summer refresh for new boss Ryan Lowe and he’ll have a big task on his hands but it could be a challenge that he will revel in, as he can bring in exactly the kind of players he wants and mould the squad to his liking.

PNE will want to try and kick on and look towards promotion this season, having fell to midtable at the back end of this campaign despite looking much brighter under their new manager. But who looks likely to leave? Who should stay at all costs?

Here then, is a full rundown of each position in the squad (youngsters included) and whether they should stay or go (or leave on loan too). Next up? The forwards/strikers:

Ethan Walker

Has never really been given a fair crack of the whip at North End and with his contract up, you’d think his future at Deepdale might be in doubt. If possible though, I do think he should either be tried now until the end of the season – just to see if it would be worth tying him down to fresh terms in summer – or offering him a short-term contract anyway and letting him finally have a crack either at PNE next year or on an EFL loan.

Josh Murphy

He’ll return to Cardiff at the end of his loan deal but will likely be available on a free with his Bluebirds contract up. We haven’t seen enough of him to really judge if it would be worth bringing him back permanently and with not much room for wingers in the squad (with Lowe preferring wing-backs), it doesn’t seem likely we’ll bring him back.

Tom Barkhuizen

Another who has played and performed tirelessly for Preston over the last few years but it might finally be the end of the road for Barky at Preston. He’s offered plenty in attack but it’s not quite clear where he would fit into Lowe’s system. He isn’t the greatest RWB and doesn’t always hit the back of the net in attack and sometimes goes missing. He’s a very solid player on his day though but with his deal up and injuries making their mark, he could be a first-team regular elsewhere but it just might not be with PNE.

Scott Sinclair

Sinclair may have still possessed a good finishing touch last season but this year has been a completely different story. The former Man City and Swansea man has barely been used and when he has been brought off the bench, he has often struggled. He can’t play as a LWB because it is clear he is more offensively minded but in attack he has also offered little. With his contract up in summer and room needed, he too might get the chop.

Jacob Holland-Wilkinson

Like O’Reilly, he too looks bright and deserves a chance to test himself higher up the football pyramid. You’d definitely be triggering his one-year option beyond this summer and trying to secure him a loan to see how he fares in bigger, competitive football during next season.

Ched Evans

Not a fantastic goalscorer but has proven to be a thorn in the opposition’s side because of his workrate and relentless running. Perhaps not a regular starter but with the options we have in attack, I’d hold onto him until we at least add another forward. If a bid came in though, you’d have to think about it.

Emil Riis

He’ll no doubt end up our top scorer for this season with an impressive goal haul and whilst his form has dipped slightly under Ryan Lowe, he remains the best striker at the club. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see teams interested in signing him during this off season but if the club have any sense, we’ll keep him on at Deepdale for as long as we can and should let him lead the line again next year.

Cameron Archer

If we had an unlimited budget and the chance to do anything in the transfer market this summer, then you’d be handing a blank cheque to Villa to sign Archer permanently. As it stands though, that isn’t going to happen and he’ll likely return to his parent club and play a part there – and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him thrive under Steven Gerrard.

Sean Maguire

Like Evans, Maguire is a workhorse who can’t really score goals. As a forward, it’s obviously important to hit the back of the net on a frequent basis. The Republic of Ireland man though thrived alongside Riis and helped him flourish earlier in the campaign but has since struggled to get gametime and has been sidelined with injury. If a bid came in, again, you’d have to consider it and especially if we add another striker. However, if you kept him as an option, you wouldn’t complain.

Joe Rodwell-Grant

The striker is someone that I’m sure most fans want to see lineup at Deepdale at some point in the near future – and we all certainly want to see him bag a goal at the Town End. He has a one-year option on his deal which most definitely needs to be taken and if he must surely be at least near the squad (or out on loan) if we have a refresh of our attacking options.

Keep: Emil Riis, Joe Rodwell-Grant

Keep – but would be tempted if a bid came in: Ched Evans, Sean Maguire

Loan: Ethan Walker, Jacob Holland-Wilkinson, Joe Rodwell-Grant

Likely to leave the club: Josh Murphy, Tom Barkhuizen, Scott Sinclair, Cameron Archer

Do we need to strengthen our strikers in the summer?: After wing-backs and goalkeepers, strikers is one of the main areas of need in the summer. It’s likely to be a complete refresh in attack too, with Barky and Sinclair’s deals likely to end and both set to leave the club more than likely. There’s also only one player in Emil Riis that you would think most of the fanbase want to keep hold of, whereas if Evans or Maguire went, there would be some who wouldn’t view that as a big miss. That shows that we do need extra bodies upfront, even if Rodwell-Grant is incorporated more (which he might not be, as he could even end up leaving the club, although I think he should stay and either be near the team or sent out on loan again). We need some backups and someone to regularly partner Riis once Archer goes back to Villa, with Evans and Maguire both workhorses but neither able to score goals frequently and both hit and miss at times too.

Share this article