Man Utd’s Pearson on his way to PNE

Preston are close to a deal for Manchester United midfielder Ben Pearson
Preston are close to a deal for Manchester United midfielder Ben Pearson
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Preston North End are ready to complete another piece of business with Manchester United by signing midfielder Ben Pearson.

The 21-year-old is on his way to Deepdale for a fee in the region of £300,000, one which PNE are hoping they can finalise today.

It would be the third deal done with United this season following on from the loans for Sam Johnstone and Will Keane.

This month, the clubs will remain in dialogue as North End attempt to keep hold of Johnstone beyond his initial 28-day stay.

Oldham-born Pearson came through the ranks at United but all of his first-team experience has come in two loan spells at Barnsley.

He played 22 games for the Tykes in the second-half of last season and is just back from a four-month stay at Oakwell in which he made a further 29 appearances.

With it being a permanent transfer, it has to be done by lunchtime today for him to be able to be in the squad at Bristol City tomorrow night.

North End were interested last season in getting Pearson on loan, enquiring about him before the winter loan window shut in November 2014.

Once he is through the door, efforts will continue to try and sign a new striker.

Walsall’s Tom Bradshaw is someone on the radar but Preston face a lot of competition for the Welsh front man who is much sought-after by clubs at this level.

In terms of deals the other way, Barnsley have enquired about taking midfielder Neil Kilkenny on loan.

But PNE do not want to let him go even though he has not featured too much this term, preferring to keep the Aussie’s experience at Deepdale.

Pearson coming in would enforce an engine room which was found wanting in the 2-0 FA Cup defeat to Peterborough.

North End manager Simon Grayson rested Paul Gallagher and Daniel Johnson for the visit to London Road, with both carrying injuries.

Johnson travelled but did not make the matchday squad, while Gallagher was on the bench and needed as a half-time sub for John Welsh, who had suffered a deadleg.

Welsh, Alan Browne and Josh Brownhill were the trio who started the clash.

Grayson said: “Josh has been waiting for his chance and we wanted to give DJ and Gally a breather.

“We had one eye on DJ and Gally being ready for the Bristol City game.”

Johnstone was missing from the PNE side, United having not given him permission to play in the cup while on loan.

It meant a debut for Chris Kirkland between the sticks, five months on from joining on a free transfer.

Grayson was disappointed to have gone out of the FA Cup, and took the view that some players had let their performance level drop.

He also rued missed chances, two one-on-ones falling to Eoin Doyle in the first half but not put away.

Tom Clarke had a header cleared off the line, while Jordan Hugill failed to convert a late chance after being set up by Callum Robinson, who made a positive impact from the bench.

Said Grayson: “One or two of the lads should have got out a bit quicker to try and block the shot for the first goal.

“We were aware that they like to shoot from distance so we needed to be better there.

“The defenders will be disappointed for the second goal in that their lad got a free header .

“As a whole, we have to be braver and better on the ball.

“When we have had a disappointing result, we have tended to get back quickly to doing something.”