Playing for keeps

Preston North End manager Simon Grayson thinks a key aspect of the transfer window will be keeping the club's best players at Deepdale.

Friday, 27th January 2017, 5:00 am
Jordan Hugill

The Lilywhites have been busy batting away interest in some of their regulars and might have to keep doing that until Tuesday’s deadline.

Ipswich, their opponents tomorrow, have had two bids for striker Jordan Hugill turned down – the second of which hit the £2m mark.

PNE’s push up the table since the autumn has clearly attracted attention.

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Grayson wants to see such momentum continue and thinks that is best served by keeping the main core of the squad together.

There could yet be fringe players leaving, with plenty of interest in loan moves for Eoin Doyle and Steve May.

As for incomings, Robbie Keane remains on the radar but only if his salary can be kept within the pay structure.

“The biggest thing for me is keeping the best players here,” said Grayson.

“We’ve had opportunities to sell three or four of our first-team players this window but we have made it very clear that we aren’t for letting our best players go.

“Bids have come in and been turned down because we have something good at this club.

“I’m delighted that the owner has stood by me when I’ve said I don’t want to sell X, Y or Z, he has backed me.

“In this window we have signed the two Irish boys and Tom Barkhuizen.

“I’ve been very pleased with them, as I have been with keeping hold of people.”

The deadline falling on the same night PNE play away at Cardiff, might mean a busier Monday instead in terms of late business.

Grayson is keen on some right-back cover, while at the other end of the pitch, Keane is someone PNE would like if the deal is right.

“If someone is available who we think would improve our squad, we will try and do that,whether that is Robbie Keane or someone from Everton, Liverpool, Manchester United, Manchester City or wherever,” said Grayson.

“It has to be done within the boundaries of our wage structure.

“If Robbie wants to come here and we want to sign him, it will be more for footballing reasons than trying to better the wages he has been on at his other clubs.”

On the selection front, Hugill is doubtful for Ipswich’s visit after jarring his knee at Aston Villa last week.

Ben Pearson returns from a ban but Greg Cunningham is still suspended.

Grayson said: “Jordan hasn’t trained this week but he might be able to join in today.

“ If he doesn’t make it for tomorrow, I expect he will be available for Tuesday night.”