Busy summer in store for PNE boss Alex Neil

Ben Pearson is seen as a key figure for PNE as they target a promotion push next season
Ben Pearson is seen as a key figure for PNE as they target a promotion push next season

Preston have three different strands to their summer’s work as they put the building blocks in place for what they hope will be a promotion push next season.

PNE are looking to do a list of contract renewals, a 
continuation of the policy to tie their regulars to longer deals.

They will be active in the transfer market to add more quality to the squad, Alex Neil having identified targets for the 2018/19 campaign.

In the other direction, work will be needed to find new clubs for the five players who finished the season on loan at League One clubs.

They are needed off the books to help free up room on the wage bill.

North End want to keep the core of the squad who finished in seventh place, together.

A report over the weekend claimed Ben Pearson could be on his way out of Deepdale in a big-money move, with Ryan Ledson his replacement.

While efforts continue to get a deal done for long-term target Ledson, club sources say the plan is to have him and Pearson together in the squad.

If anything,should Ledson get over the line he would be helping fill other vacancies in the midfield.

John Welsh is leaving at the end of his contract, while it looks like Paul Gallagher could be heading for the exit too.

Gallagher, who is out of contract this summer, has been offered a one-year deal but wants two years.

With regard to Pearson, he is under contract until June 2021, and North End see him as key to their plans.

Although some fans will point to Jordan Hugill’s sale to West Ham in January as being a similar scenario, the striker had run his contract down to its last 18 months.

Pearson’s contract to 2021 is as long as anyone’s in the squad – Ben Davies and Josh Harrop also run to 2021.

On the contract renewal front, talks are planned with a number of players’ agents over the coming weeks.

Alan Browne, Sean Maguire, Darnell Fisher, Tom Clarke, Greg Cunningham, Paul Huntington and Daniel Johnson are among those who PNE are looking to tie down.

Player of the year Browne is under contract until 2020, while Maguire and Fisher also have two years left – they both signed three-year contracts when joining last summer.

Clarke, Cunningham, DJ and Huntington are entering the final year of their deals.

Like any other club, North End will be hoping to do as much business on contracts, incoming deals and exits, as early as possible in the close season.

The PNE players return for pre-season training on June 28 and ideally manager Neil would like the bulk of the squad in place for the whole of the build-up.