Preston North End Face Tricky January With Five Key Players Out of Contract

Preston North End have had a busy transfer window so far with three new signings, but they face a battle to try and keep five important first-team players. Ben Davies, Daniel Johnson, Alan Browne, Ben Pearson and Darnell Fisher are all out of contract in the summer.

Preston North End Need to Tie Up Contracts

Already Made Several Signings

The Lilywhites have been on a bit of busy recruitment drive so far this campaign, signing three players so far with the window only opening nine days ago. Jayson Molumby on a loan deal was followed up with loan moves for both Ched Evans and Daniel Iversen.

One of the big concerns for the club this window though perhaps shouldn’t be incomings but outgoings.

Preston face the prospect of losing five important first-team regulars for nothing in the summer unless they can tie them up to new deals – and soon.

Ben Davies, Darnell Fisher, Alan Browne, Daniel Johnson and Ben Pearson are all out of contract at the end of the campaign and are yet to pen new deals.

Preston Players With no Contract Linked With Moves Away From the Club

There have been rumours linking them with the exit door too – Davies is a target for Sheffield United, Daniel Johnson has long been wanted by Rangers and Pearson is reportedly in talks with Celtic over a pre-contract agreement.

It would be a disaster to lose all five players this month, so one of the main bits of business that the Lilywhites need to do is tie them up to new deals as soon as possible. Even with the signing of Molumby (who could be a valid Pearson replacement), the Brighton & Hove Albion man is only at Deepdale on loan and would leave a gaping hole in the centre of the field for North End when he returns to his parent club if Pearson was to leave.

The question is – how many can they realistically tie down to new deals and what could they do if they lose one of the five? Should they cash in on any of them?

Potential New Alan Browne Contract At Preston

There’s hope in terms of Alan Browne penning a new contract. Molumby and Browne are both Republic of Ireland internationals and the new signing claims he was convinced to join by his Irish teammate – surely if Browne was off soon, he wouldn’t be asking his fellow countryman to join him at the club?

In terms of actual reports on new deals for the five, they have been few and far between. Some claimed that midfielder Pearson had, in fact, signed a new agreement but nothing has emerged.

George Hodgson for LancsLive also added fuel to the fire by retweeting a previous tweet about Alan Browne, stirring speculation that he had penned a new agreement. Apart from that, it’s been quiet on the contract front apart from the occasional mention from boss Alex Neil.

Ideally, the club would want to keep all five. Whether that is plausible with clubs sniffing around, most of which are in a higher tier, is another matter entirely.

Centre-Back a Priority for Preston in Transfer Window

So, if the players were to leave, what should Preston do? They would, of course, want to sell their most valuable assets for a fee while they can but what about replacements?

Centre-back seems a priority for the Lilywhites. With Patrick Bauer out injured for the remainder of the season and arguably the club’s best defender in Ben Davies out of contract in the summer, they’ll need to bring in some reinforcements in that area.

They’d be left with a pairing of Jordan Storey and Paul Huntington. Storey has played at this level and has impressed on occasion but sometimes his naivety of Championship football shows and he has been prone to a mistake or two – and perhaps a loan out would benefit him. As for Huntington, the veteran defender has always proven to be solid and reliable but even his experienced head can’t compete regularly in the second tier.

In terms of Darnell Fisher, if he was to leave, there would be a new signing needed there too. The right-back options after Fisher are as follows – Joe Rafferty, and that’s it.

More Options in Midfield

Midfield is a much more stocked position – which is probably for the best considering three of these important players play there. Pearson fills a defensive midfield role and although he is seemingly irreplaceable, there are substitutes. Ryan Ledson, Tom Bayliss, Paul Gallagher and now Jayson Molumby can all play there too, although perhaps they aren’t as defensive as the number four.

In attacking midfield, even without Daniel Johnson and Alan Browne, they could play the likes of Brad Potts, Josh Harrop or even play Scott Sinclair in more of a ‘secondary striker’ type role. This is without including Ben Whiteman, who is heavily rumoured to be on the move to Deepdale and could also fill in there.

Could these signings be due to the club’s owners knowing they are resigned to losing some of these out of contract players? Possibly, but Preston fans can be happy in the knowledge that even if they do lose any of these out of contract players, Alex Neil seemingly has a plan and has some good players on the way in.

If North End can tie up even three of the five players to new deals (albeit losing even two of their most important players on free transfers would be a blow) it would be arguably the best bit of business that North End do this month though. Preston fans will be hoping to hear more on this contract front soon – as will boss Alex Neil.

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