Defender Ben Davies looks to be heading for Preston North End exit door

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Ben Davies’ long association with Preston looks to be coming to an end with him now being eyed from abroad as well as on these shores.

It is understood that of the four key players who are now in the last six months of their contracts, Davies is the clearest in what to do next.

The talented defender has indicated that he will not sign the new contract offered to him, so a January move looks to be on the cards.

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It has been reported that Belgian club Genk have shown an interest in Davies, although that interest has yet to turn into anything official by way of a bid to North End.

Lilywhites defender Ben DaviesLilywhites defender Ben Davies
Lilywhites defender Ben Davies

With the 25-year-old also having been linked to a move to Germany in recent months, he does seem to be a player in demand.

Closer to home, Davies was the subject of a £3m-plus-add-ons offer from Bournemouth in the summer/autumn window which PNE turned down. Celtic and Sheffield United were also linked with him.

If there is no hope of Davies agreeing terms at Deepdale, North End will want to move him on this month.

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That would apply to the others in the same boat, Ben Pearson, Daniel Johnson and Alan Browne, should they indicate they will not sign the deals offered.

North End are not resigned to losing all four at this stage though, and will hope the next couple of weeks can bring more encouraging news.

Davies has been with PNE since primary school age, coming through the club’s academy.

He made his first-team debut in February 2013 aged 17, that in the final days of Graham Westley era.

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Much of Simon Grayson’s time in charge, Davies spent on loan gaining experience.

Alex Neil recognised his ability as a centre-half and he has been a first-team regular since the early weeks of the 2017/18 season.

With plenty of interest being drummed up, it seems Davies fancies a change of environment.

Left-footed centre-halves who can play out from the back do not grow on trees.

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In terms of the interest from abroad and Scotland, Davies could in theory sign a pre-contract in January and move for free in the summer.

If he has got his mind set on leaving, PNE would obviously want to cash in this month.

Should Davies and any of the four leave in this window, they would need replacing.

That is in addition to any other business Preston intend to do, with Neil anxious to see the squad given a fresh look.

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Midfield will potentially be a big focus, with three of the ‘big’ four being midfielders.

The transfer window opened this morning – not yesterday with it being a bank holiday – and closes on February 1.

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