Preston North End’s Greg Cunningham dilemma amid Cardiff interest

PNE left-back Greg Cunningham
PNE left-back Greg Cunningham

Preston North End could be facing a dilemma over Greg Cunningham in the coming weeks.

The left-back is entering the final year of his contract at Deepdale and there is no sign of him agreeing a new one.

In the background is strong interest from Premier League new boys Cardiff who are long-time admirers of the Irishman.

With them able to offer him top-flight football, the chance of a move to South Wales would clearly be very tempting for Cunningham.

Should a bid come in, North End have to decide whether to cash in or try and hold on to a player who could leave for nothing next year.

Cunningham’s signing in July 2015 has proved to be a superb piece of business.

He came on a free transfer from Bristol City, the Robins letting him leave despite him not being out of contract.

It was a key area to recruit in that summer, Scott Laird and David Buchanan having left following promotion to the Championship.

Cunningham has played 111 games for North End over the last three seasons, all of those being starts.

He was the club’s player of the year in 2015/16. Recently he returned to the Republic of Ireland fold for their summer internationals after a five-year absence.

Cunningham played in their friendly clash against Celtic last month.

Then he was on the bench for the games against France and the United States.

Should Cardiff maintain their interest in Cunningham, North End do have Josh Earl as a replacement.

But they are still likely to recruit some cover, with Kevin O’Connor having not made the impact after last summer’s arrival from Cork City.

It was teenager Earl who stepped into the side at left-back when Cunningham suffered a serious hamstring injury last August.

He had a 12-match run in the side before a knee injury halted that sequence.

Earl returned after surgery in January to play a further eight matches.

Meanwhile, North End will find out on Friday morning who they will play in the first round of the League Cup.

The draw is being made in Vietnam – the draws for the opening two rounds last year were done to the Far East too.

While the first round will be regionalised, it will not be seeded. Drawn games will go straight to penalties, clubs voting to remove extra-time.

But extra-time will still be used in the final.