Connolly too pricey for PNE

No way back: Paul Connolly looks set for a move ' but not to Deepdale
No way back: Paul Connolly looks set for a move ' but not to Deepdale
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A Deepdale return for Paul Connolly next season is unlikely following his recent loan stay with Preston North End.

The right-back spent three-and-a-half months on loan at North End from Leeds, making 14 starts and one substitute appearance.

He is out of contract with Leeds this summer and will not be staying at Elland Road after not playing for United at all last season.

It is believed that there is already strong interest from a Championship club in signing the 29-year-old on a Bosman.

Financially, Connolly is out of PNE’s reach.

They made a contribution to his wages during the loan spell but his full salary is well beyond what North End can match.

Connolly joined Preston in mid-January for the rest of the season, former manager Graham Westley bringing him in when Keith Keane was still recovering from knee surgery.

He put in some steady performances which allowed Keane to be used mainly in midfield once he returned to action.

Right-back is one of the areas of the squad which PNE boss Simon Grayson will be looking to strengthen during the summer break.

Keane was the regular in that role until damaging a knee cartilage in November.

He is an option to fill the right-back berth again next term.

But with the former Luton player also needed at times for a holding midfield role, the arrival of a new right-back looks on the cards.

Keane underwent surgery to repair a hernia last Thursday.

He had been due to go under the knife the week before but a hamstring strain which ended Connolly’s season one game early meant Keane was needed for the goalless draw at Sheffield United.

There is a stronger chance of PNE’s other loanee, Declan Rudd, returning next season.

The England Under-21s goalkeeper is now back at Norwich and attempts will be made during the close season to strike a deal with the Canaries for another loan spell.

Talks are not likely to get into full swing until Norwich’s season ends in a fortnight.

The East Anglia club’s focus at present will be on preserving their Premier League status.

They have been dragged into the relegation mix of late, with Saturday’s home defeat to Aston Villa leaving them just three points clear of 18th-placed Wigan.

Grayson said: “We are keen on bringing Declan back.

“He’s under contract at Norwich so we’ll see where we go with that one.

“We’ve offered Thorsten Stuckmann a new deal and Declan is something we’d like to do, so that we have two very good goalkeepers here.

“Agreeing a deal with Norwich for Declan is something much further down the line.

“Norwich’s season still has a couple of weeks to go and we have to respect that.”

Meanwhile, former PNE boss Darren Ferguson will be bringing his Peterborough side to Deepdale next season after Posh’s 3-2 defeat at Crystal Palace on Saturday condemned them to relegation from the Championship.