PNE are playing for keeps

Chris Kirkland is leaving Preston at the end of his contract
Chris Kirkland is leaving Preston at the end of his contract
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Preston North End have two keepers on their summer shopping list after releasing Chris Kirkland.

Shot-stopper Kirkland was one of seven players let go by the Lilywhites yesterday.

With Anders Lindegaard’s loan stay from West Bromwich having ended, it leaves two vacancies to fill.

Lindegaard is on the radar as a possible permanent signing, as he is keen to leave the Baggies during the close season.

North End want two permanent keepers in preference to playing the loan market and are understood to be close to landing one of their targets.

Kirkland, 35, made five starts and one substitute appearance this season.

Signed last August on a free transfer after leaving Sheffield Wednesday, he was content to act as cover.

He was back-up to Jordan Pickford, Sam Johnstone and Lindegaard.

Three of his starts – and the appearance from the bench for the second half at Birmingham – were due to Lindegaard suffering a shoulder injury.

Kirkland’s name appearing on the list of released players was not too much of a surprise.

In fact the retained list had no shocks on it.

Neil Kilkenny, Kyel Reid, Andy Little, Jack Ryan, Nick Anderton and Josh Heaton were the others let go.

Although a regular on the bench this season, midfielder Kilkenny’s last appearance was on Boxing Day at Huddersfield.

He made eight starts and seven appearances from the bench, his one goal this term being a peach of a shot from 25 yards against Bristol City at Deepdale in September.

Reid, Little, Ryan, Anderton and Heaton were very much on the fringes.

Winger Reid was the only one of those five to see first-team action with North End this season.

He started the Carling Cup win over Watford and came off the bench against Ipswich and Bournemouth.

Reid has been on loan at Bradford since October.

Little is currently on loan with Accrington, although has not seen action for them yet.

Ryan, Anderton and Heaton all came through North End’s academy.

All had loan spells away from Deepdale this season, Ryan at Southport, Anderton with Aldershot, and Barrow and Heaton at Tamworth.

The only out-of-contract player to be offered a new deal is Josh Brownhill.

PNE have put a two-year deal on the table for the young midfielder and are awaiting a response.

Brownhill is currently on loan at Barnsley and his season has gone into extra time after the Tykes qualified for the League One play-offs – they play Walsall in the semi-finals.