Preston will miss star striker

AN amazing 7,000 Preston fans went to Everton on Wednesday to see their side slump out of the League Cup, with Marcus Bent sealing their fate.It is unlikely anywhere near as that amount will arrive in Ipswich today, but those that do will be just as optimistic - even with the sale of David Healy going through.

By Derek Davis

AN amazing 7,000 Preston fans went to Everton on Wednesday to see their side slump out of the League Cup, with Marcus Bent sealing their fate.

It is unlikely anywhere near as that amount will arrive in Ipswich today, but those that do will be just as optimistic - even with the sale of David Healy going through.

The Lilywhites will be almost £1m better off with their top scorer sold, but they will miss his goals.

Preston chairman Derek Shaw admits the club had no option but to agree terms with Leeds over the sale of the top-class Northern Ireland striker, after the recently-relegated side failed in three previous bids.

Shaw said: “We agreed a deal which is obviously more than the previous bids and, on the whole, is a much more acceptable package.

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“We tried negotiating with David and offered him a three-year contract extension but, unfortunately, he didn't accept it. Leeds is a big challenge for him and they are the sort of club who will have 30,000 fans in the stadium every week.

“He wants to play at a higher level and saw his future at Leeds. Because of the Bosman ruling, our hands were tied and it is a great disappointment, but we have to stay positive.”

Shaw understands that supporters will be disappointed to see another high-profile departure from Deepdale - after losing crowd-favourites Jonathan Macken and Ricardo Fuller to Premiership clubs - but he insists new signings will be made in the near future.

“I can assure the fans that we will be bringing in new blood,” he said.

“We have to keep going and I'm sure the fans were disappointed when they saw Macken leave, but then we solved that problem by bringing in Ricardo Fuller.

“Football moves fast and players move on, and that is something that will never change.

“We have got to stay positive but we also realise that we are not as powerful as clubs like Leeds.”

While Shaw admits that North End are badly in need of reinforcements, he is adamant that the club will not be rushed into making a bad signing.

The closure of the transfer window means the club are unable to sign a Premiership player until January but the chairman insists the money from the Healy transfer will not be wasted.

“All money made by Preston North End is spent on Preston North End,” he said.

“We have been looking for new players for the last few months and have stepped up the search since Leeds announced their interest in David. But it's hard to get players off Premiership clubs due to the transfer window and there is a lot of competition for players between the Championship teams.

“But we will do what we think is right for the club and will not be rushed into wasting our money.”

Preston used a 5-3-2 formation at Goodison Park but may revert to 4-5-1, with Healy dropping out, on-loan John Curtis returning in defence, Graham Alexander returning to midfield and Richard Cresswell the lone striker. North End are currently talking to Tranmere about signing striker Iain Hume

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