Saints have moved in the transfer market to try and ensure they are not overly reliant on Danny Ings, but the importance of having him fit and firing cannot be underestimated.

The summer recruitment of Che Adams is a significant move from Saints.

The £15m they spent to get him acknowledges that not only did they believe that the frontline needed strengthening in terms of quality in depth but that they also wanted a different option.

Though we have seen different formations from Ralph Hasenhuttl in these early stages of pre-season, they have still relied on one out-and-out striker to be the focal point of the attack.

Adams played that role and scored against Altach.

Ings was given more than an hour at Preston and scored twice.

The variety on offer will be incredibly useful for Hasenhuttl.

Adams has pace and physical power to add to his finishing quality to allow Saints the potential of a more direct option.

Ings is all about guile and class, dropping deep to link up play and holding the ball up to add to his finishing quality.

It is an intriguing mix and one that should serve Saints well when you then take into account that the likes of Shane Long and Michael Obafemi provide further options should they be needed.

But those two, along with the likes of Nathan Redmond, Moussa Djenepo and James Ward-Prowse, seem set for roles operating off of whoever the main striker is for any particular game.

Hasenhuttl went with a 5-2-3 at Preston with Obafemi and Long either side of Ings through the middle.

With fresh competition Ings knows he must raise his game.

His first season at Saints was respectable, but still hit by injury.

Saints managed to get him out on the pitch 25 times in all competitions, but out of a total of 43 matches that was still less than he surely would have liked.

Ings bagged eight goals, but that his last came in December underlines both what he can deliver and also that things went south a little after a bright opening to the campaign.

Having seen the formalities of his £18m permanent transfer go through this summer, the key for Ings is to stay fit, and then compete for his place with Adams.

He certainly looked both in good shape and good form as Saints played the first of only two pre-season friendlies on English soil at Deepdale.

Hasenhuttl had a bit of a mixed squad to pick from with the players who are heading out to China given a break before their long journey.

The first half was an open affair.

Obafemi showed the pace that Hasenhuttl so wants to get into his side after just three minutes, picking the ball up inside his own half and displaying blistering pace to slice through the heart of the Preston midfield.

He picked the right option with a neat through ball to Ryan Bertrand whose shot was saved by Connor Ripley.

The Preston stopper had to keep out a Long header and was grateful to see an offside flag raised to rule out a flicked near post finish from the Republic of Ireland forward before a moment to forget gave Saints the lead on 11 minutes.

Saints had a let-off just moments before as Tom Barkhuizen intercepted a short Jan Bednarek header back towards his own goal and rounded Angus Gunn but could only find the side netting from a tight angle.

There were no blushes spared for Ripley, however, who looked to have a fairly routine half volleyed clearance to make but skewed it into Ings, who wasn’t even in all that close order, and then had to watch in horror as the ball looped back over his head and into the net.

The lead lasted just seven minutes before Saints allowed Billy Bodin to cut in from the right far too easily, ghosting past two defenders before curling a left footed shot into the far corner.

Saints did grow as a threat again as the half wore on.

Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg put a free header from eight yards over the bar, Ripley had to make a routine save from Long and a far trickier one with an outstretched leg from Obafemi before Saints restored their lead a minute before half time.

Ryan Bertrand had delivered several inviting crosses from the left already and did so again to find Ings who made no mistake with a clinical header.

The second half didn’t live up to the standards of the first but it was Saints, who waited an hour before making changes, that had the better openings.

Stuart Armstrong saw an effort saved by Ripley while Bertrand also sliced wide.

The nearest Preston came was a 20 yard shot by Barkhuizen that was straight at Gunn.

Saints did add a third eight minutes before the end as Redmond’s cut back found its way to Jake Vokins who had a simple finish to give Saints a 3-1 win.

Saints: Gunn, Cedric, Bednarek (Klarer 72), Stephens, Hoedt, Bertrand (Vokins 72), Smallbone, Hojbjerg (Redmond 61), Long (Sims 61), Obafemi (Armstrong 61), Ings (Reed 61).

Unused subs: Lewis, O’Connor, Johnson.