Former PNE defender set for the States

USA-bound: Steven Smith
USA-bound: Steven Smith
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Steven Smith is moving to America’s MLS after leaving Preston North End.

he Scottish left-back had the remaining two months of his Deepdale contract settled up earlier this week.

Smith never really made his mark in an eight-month stay with North End, and is now hoping a switch to the USA can bring better fortune.

PNE chairman Peter Ridsdale told the Evening Post: “We believe that Steven is going to the States.

“We did a deal with him where essentially he went with a small payment on the balance of his contract.

“We saved a small amount of money too because he was out of contract in the summer.”

Smith only joined North End on a free transfer from Norwich City last August.

The arrival of the former Rangers player looked to have ended PNE’s summer-long search for a left-back.

But a calf injury picked up in his first start at Chesterfield kept him sidelined for more than a month.

And the Scotsman ended up making only 15 appearances in all competitions, being booked six times and sent off once.

His final appearance in the PNE first-team came last month in the 3-0 defeat at Colchester.

When Smith wasn’t available or overlooked, Paul Parry established himself at left-back. And Bailey Wright has recently had a spell playing there.

Smith’s departure is just a sign of things to come at Deepdale over the coming weeks and months.

Fourteen more professionals are out of contract in June, and decisions still have to be made on the futures of the current crop of second-year trainees.

There are players in contract beyond the summer whose futures are uncertain too.

Ridsdale said: “One of the things we all have to recognise is that in the summer there is going to be a massive reduction in the numbers here. We want to get the squad down to a more manageable size and then supplement the quality which is already here.

“Steven Smith going this week is part and parcel of the changes which will happen in the summer.

“But just because we are reducing the numbers doesn’t mean we lack ambition in any shape or form.

“We want to get promoted next season – that has always been the ambition.

“We’re already looking at next season and planning what we want to do.

“As regards a decision on the trainees and who gets professional contracts, that will probably be done in the next 10 days or so.

“Graham Westley and I want to have a bit more time to look at them.

“We were able to watch them in the Lancashire FA Youth Cup tie at Oldham last week.

“And there will be a couple more opportunities to have a look.”

As for events on the pitch, Ridsdale says the performances over Easter against MK Dons and Stevenage gave him much encouragement.

And he hopes it continues as North End welcome Huddersfield to Deepdale on Saturday.

Said Ridsdale: “It was good to get a couple of points on the board and I really thought we deserved to win at Stevenage – it was so frustrating to concede so late on.

“I know some of the signings we’ve brought in have come in for criticism, but there were good performances from Max Ehmer and Andy Procter on Monday.

“And I thought Chris Holroyd was excellent against MK Dons.”

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