Why Preston North End's retained list contained no surprises

The names on Preston North End's retained list came as no surprise bearing in mind none of them had pulled on a Lilywhites shirt in more than a year.

Thursday, 9th May 2019, 11:27 am
Updated Thursday, 9th May 2019, 12:27 pm
Tommy Spurr will leave Preston North End this summer

Football's use of the the word 'retained' is perhaps somewhat misleading these days, in that the retained list is about those at the end of their contracts who are being let go.

In days gone by, long before player power, longer contracts and the abolition of the maximum wage, players were put into two categories at the end of the season - retained or released.

Those who North End are saying goodbye to this summer are Tommy Spurr, Andy Boyle, Marnick Vermijl, Ben Pringle, Michael Howard and Tom Stead.

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Andy Boyle has been released by Preston North End

Howard and Stead leave having come through the academy but not having broken into the first-team frame at Deepdale since turning professional.

Southport-based Howard spent part of the 2017/18 season on loan with Cork City, then with Hednesford Town and Stalybridge Celtic this campaign.

Stead, who suffered a cruciate ligament injury in his second year as a scholar, got taken on as a pro last summer, the centre-half having a loan spell of late at Kendal Town.

Spurr, Boyle, Vermijl and Pringle are in a different category, all seasoned professionals who found that things didn't exactly work out for them at Preston.

Marnick Vermijl in action for Preston against Accrington Stanley - one of four appearances under Alex Neil

Defender Spurr played in the North End side more recently than the other three - his last appearance being in a 1-1 draw at Brentford in February 2018.

He started last season as a first-choice centre-back under Alex Neil before being edged out by Ben Davies.

A knee injury suffered in a training game took him out of the first-team frame for more than four months and on his return only got that Brentford game to show his worth.

Spurr was loaned to Fleetwood Town last summer for the 2018/19 season but serious issues with his hips saw the loan cut short in January.

Ben Pringle has been released by Preston

The 31-year-old has since had surgery on both hips and has been under the care of North End during his rehabilitation work.

Boyle and Vermijl both played under Neil but only fleetingly.

The last of Boyle's five appearances of the Neil era came in the FA Cup victory over Wycombe in January 2018.

Loan spells at Doncaster, Dundee and latterly Ross County have followed, Boyle helping Ross County to win the Scottish Championship and return to the Premiership.

Vermijl has spent the season on loan with MVV Maastricht in Holland, with the Belgian's last PNE appearance being in the 3-0 defeat at Ipswich in November 2017.

When Pringle arrived at Deepdale from Fulham in July 2016, he was regarded as something of a marquee signing.

The midfielder started the 2016/17 season as a regular pick under Simon Grayson but didn't kick a competitive ball for the club after December 2016.

Pringle spent the second-half of the 2017/18 season on loan at Oldham, while this season has been on loan at Grimsby Town and Tranmere Rovers.

His season is still going on, with Tranmere in the League Two play-offs.

The flip side of the retained list will see Graham Burke, Connor Simpson and Chris Maxwell return to Deepdale this summer after loans at Gillingham, Carlisle and Charlton respectively - they remain under contract with North End.

There will no doubt be further movement out of the club during the summer transfer window but the exits announced on Thursday morning covered just those reaching the end of their contracts.