Low level of interest in Preston North End's 'big four' is a surprise to Alex Neil

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Alex Neil has admitted to an element of surprise at the low level of interest in four of the Preston North End players who are approaching the end of their contracts.

The lengthy summer and autumn transfer window passed without the Lilywhites needing to really battle to hold on to their ‘big four’.

Ben Davies, Ben Pearson, Daniel Johnson and Alan Browne are only under contract until next June.

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Of the four, Davies got the most interest, with Bournemouth making a £3m bid which was quickly rejected.

Preston North End manager Alex Neil and his Cardiff counterpart Neil HarrisPreston North End manager Alex Neil and his Cardiff counterpart Neil Harris
Preston North End manager Alex Neil and his Cardiff counterpart Neil Harris

He was linked in the media too with Celtic, Sheffield United and West Ham.

Rangers offered just £1.5m for Johnson and did not return with anything higher.

Speaking on a Zoom press conference from Euxton on Monday morning, PNE manager Neil said: “The simple fact is that over the course of the window we didn’t receive anywhere near a significant offer for any of our players who we have made it our duty to keep.

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“If you have something which is worth £500, you don’t sell it for £50 do you?

“It seems to have got well documented that we were fighting off teams left, right and centre, but that simply isn’t true. Am I surprised? To a point, yes I am.

“The lads who are coming to the end of their contracts have been key players here for a significant amount of time.

“However, I don’t think there have been a lot of big- money moves from clubs in this league to other teams in the league.

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“The majority have been loans and if there have been moves, they’ve not been of significant value.

“With Premier League teams, it is whether they are willing to spend the money or not.

“When lads are running into their last year, clubs are going to be reluctant to spend the type of cash it will take to get them out.”

With the quartet staying put and Emil Riis being the one new recruit, PNE’s squad has a very familiar look to it.

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In an ideal world, Neil would liked to have done more incoming business to give things a fresher feel.

Said Neil: “Naturally as a manager I want a stronger squad, I want to add to numbers, freshen up the squad which is important.

"It's been well documented that we have bought a new training ground.

"We have added one player. Would I have wanted more? Of course I would but we are in the midst of a lockdown or whatever you want to call it.

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“We, like every other team, are going cap in hand to the Premier League looking for a bailout.

“But if you are in the Premier League looking at the Championship, some of the money other teams have spent........”