PNE’s Ridsdale in talks with Westley

On the way? Graham Westley has a decision to make about whether to make the move north
On the way? Graham Westley has a decision to make about whether to make the move north
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Graham Westley was set to hold talks with Peter Ridsdale today with a view to becoming Preston North End’s new manager.

While North End’s approach for the 43-year-old was described as ‘unwelcome’ by Stevenage, permission has been granted to let him speak with PNE chairman Ridsdale.

If those discussions are fruitful and Westley wants the job, Preston will then enter into negotiations with Boro over compensation.

Ridsdale made a formal approach over the weekend, speaking with Stevenage chairman Phil Wallace, who is currently out of the country.

Yesterday, the Hertfordshire club publicly confirmed the contact.

And they put the ball firmly into Westley’s court over whether he wanted to speak with North End.

A statement from Stevenage read: “The club have informed Preston that their approach is unwelcome at this crucial stage of the season.

“However, as always in these situations, the manager’s desire will influence the outcome.”

Ridsdale said: “We’ve moved on to the next stage of the process.

“How long things will take from here, I can’t predict.

“We still haven’t talked about the compensation issue yet.

“That would only take place if everything is alright with Graham.”

Ridsdale has kept caretaker managers Graham Alexander and David Unsworth up to speed with events.

He’s still mystified as to the source of the story carried on the Sky Sports website on Sunday, which claimed the pair had been handed the job until the end of the season.

If Westley accepts the job, it’s not yet clear whether he would bring with him any of his backroom staff.

His assistant at Stevenage is John Dreyer, while former Southport striker Dino Maamria is first-team coach.

Former PNE skipper Sean Gregan can see the attraction of appointing Westley.

Gregan, who writes a weekly column in the Evening Post, said: “There was a lot of coverage of Stevenage’s win in the FA Cup at Reading on Saturday.

“I was listening to the comments of some of their fans on the radio, and they were saying that Stevenage had been the second most successful club in Great Britain over the last three years.

“They’ve had back-to-back promotions and are doing well in League One this season and are just outside the play-offs.

“Stability has been the key under Westley at Stevenage.

“Their goalkeeper and back four have been together for the last three seasons.

“Sides who are struggling tend to have changed their managers a lot and try different ideas.

“Preston need some stability now, when you consider they’ve had Alan Irvine, Darren Ferguson and Phil Brown in charge over the last couple of years.

“If it is going to be Graham Westley next, you can see why North End are going for him.”

Should Westley be appointed over the next day or so, his first game in charge would be Wycombe’s visit to Deepdale on Saturday.

It’s the first of back-to-back home matches for PNE, with Leyton Orient here the following week.

After that, they hit the road to tackle Notts County at Meadow Lane on January 24, before ending the month with a trip to Yeovil.

Midfielder Barry Nicholson hopes to be fit for the Wycombe clash, having been out of action since the start of December with torn ankle ligaments.

He said: “I’m back in full training now.

“I tore two ligaments in my ankle and at first we thought it would take six weeks to heal, so to be back in four is brilliant.

“Myself and the physio are pleased with my progress and I’m glad to be back out on the training ground again.

“There is a reserve game tomorrow and we will have to see if I can take part – hopefully I can get a run-out and be available on Saturday.”

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