PNE contract talks on the agenda
Preston North End will look to secure a number of their first-team squad on longer deals as part of the summer planning for next season.
Although only a handful of players are out of contract at the end of this season, it is a different matter in a year’s time.
A dozen of the squad are currently on deals which run out in June 2017.
It is some of those contracts which North End will seek to extend in the coming weeks.
Greg Cunningham, Daniel Johnson, Bailey Wright, Tom Clarke, Paul Gallagher and Paul Huntington are among those who have a year to run.
Jermaine Beckford, John Welsh, Chris Humphrey, Ben Davies, Matt Hudson and Clive Smith are the others in the same boat – PNE do have further 12-month options on Hudson and Smith.
Beyond that, Joe Garner, Jordan Hugill, Stevie May, Calum Woods, Ben Pearson and Liam Grimshaw are on contracts until summer 2018.
Alan Browne, who signed a new deal last month, is under contract until June 2019.
With so many players out of contract at once, it makes sense for negotiations to start now and spread things out.
It is unlikely that all of those 12 players will get fresh offers straight away, with some being reviewed at a later date.
In the shorter term, North End have eight players out of contract this summer.
Chris Kirkland, Neil Kilkenny, Josh Brownhill, Kyel Reid, Andy Little, Jack Ryan, Nick Anderton and Josh Heaton are nearing the end of their current deals. Brownhill, Reid, Little, Ryan, Anderton and Heaton are out on loan at the moment.
Kirkland – who stood in for Anders Lindegaard in last week’s defeat to Burnley and could do so again on Saturday at Reading – signed a contract for this season when he joined last summer.
Kilkenny is a regular on the bench but has not seen action since Boxing Day.
Talks have been ongoing with Brownhill for some time over new terms but have yet to reach a conclusion.
If the 20-year-old, currently on loan at Barnsley, decides to move on, North End would be entitled to compensation due to his age.
PNE’s strong first season back in the Championship has inevitably led to some players being looked at by other clubs.
One of the more curious pieces of speculation has seen centre-half Wright linked with a move to the Chinese Super League.
Australian players are much sought after in China, with clubs limited to five foreign players – one of which must come from an Asian Football Federation country, of which Australia is a member.
Shanghai Shenua were believed to have shown an interest in Wright when they had his Socceroos team-mate Tim Cahill on their books.
Cahill has since left Shanghai and joined Hangzhou Greentown.
It is unlikely that at his age, 23-year-old Wright would be tempted by a move to China.