Connor Simpson still driven despite Preston North End exit

On the day Preston’s first-team squad returned to training in preparation for Project Restart, young striker Connor Simpson will be working alone.
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The PNE forward has spent the past two years at Deepdale after arriving from Hartlepool in the summer of 2018 for a fee of £50,000.

Standing at 6ft 5in tall and still only 20-years-old, big things were expected of the youngster but he has only made one first-team appearance in that time.

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That came as a subsitute at Aston Villa last season and this year he has been on loan at League Two Accrington Stanley.

Connor Simpson on his PNE debut at Villa ParkConnor Simpson on his PNE debut at Villa Park
Connor Simpson on his PNE debut at Villa Park

Simpson is not being offered a new deal this summer and along with goalkeeper Michael Crowe has not returned for training.

Looking for a new club, Simpson is aware that he faces an uncertain future in the current climate as football adapts to the coronaviris outbreak.

Many people, including Chorley chairman Ken Wright and Gary Neville – the former Manchester United defender and now part owner of League Two Salford City – believes the game faces a financial re-set. There is also talk among many chairman of clubs in League Two and the National League of introducing a salary cap.

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There is the distinct possibility that many players who are currently professional players now, may not be in six months’ time.

Despite the uncertainty, Simpson remains optimistic that he has a future in football. It is the reason why he is training diligently every day.

He told The Athletic: “The money will not be as high but I view it this way – as a young player wanting experience, it may give me a chance instead of taking on older guys with higher demands. It may work out okay. I have to be optimistic. Every day, I go for a run and then go to the field.

“I do a lot of fitness, speed and agility training, and a lot of finishing from different areas.

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“I bought a ball machine that fires balls out to you at different speeds. I then watch back my videos and analyse what I can do better.

“I need to be ready for trials. I am a fighter. I came through at 17 at Hartlepool, they were struggling and needed to look at youth players. I washed my kit, cleaned my boots.

“There was no money there so everything was off your own back. I got a lot of kicks early on in men’s football.

“They wanted to bully me and throw me about. I was only 17 and quite weak at the time. I had to fight for myself.

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“I got the move to Preston and this was mad, my first time on the bench was Villa away in front of 30,000. I had played in front of 4,000 at Hartlepool but it was surreal really against Villa, against John Terry. I want more of that.

“The level matters less to me but the main thing is playing games. There won’t be footage of me recently in action, so I want to show clubs I care, that I’m not sat at home doing nothing. I have to give myself a chance.”