Preston fend off Premier League interest to sign up scholar

Preston North End had to fend off strong interest from Premier League clubs to land one of their new scholars.

By Dave Seddon
Saturday, 19th June 2021, 8:00 am
Updated Saturday, 19th June 2021, 8:42 am

Josh Seary is one of 10 youngsters who will start two-year scholarships with the Lilywhites in July.

Right-back Seary was a lad in demand, with clubs from the top-flight looking to take him under their wing.

He opted to stick with North End, him and Noah Mawene already having agreed professional deals.

Noah Mawene and Josh Seary have agreed professional deals with Preston (photo: PNE)

Those will kick-in when they turn 17 – in Seary’s case in September and Mawene next February.

Peter Ridsdale advisor to PNE owner Trevor Hemmings, told the Lancashire Post: “We have high hopes for all the scholars and we are delighted they have signed for us.

“Noah has been playing for the Under-18s since he was 15.

“Josh we had to work hard to hang on to because of the demand from a number of Premier League clubs.

“So it is absolutely fantastic that he wanted to stay here and work with us.

“Him and his family made it clear he wanted to be with us and they have been a pleasure to deal with.

“We’ve looked after him in the youth system and he’s been here a while now.”

The other new scholars are Kian Best, Finlay Cross-Adair, Finlay Wallbank, Kian Taylor, Rio Pemberton, Jacob Slater, Kitt Nelson and James Pradic.

North End have a number of top-flight clubs on their doorstep which makes the competition for young talent a fierce one.

Ridsdale said: “Our biggest challenge is we are in a hotbed of football.

“I go back to my Cardiff days, we had such a large catchment area with Swansea the only real competition.

“When I was at Leeds, they had a big catchment area.

“Here at Preston we are surrounded by clubs who are happy to take good players for not a lot of compensation and take them into a system where they can find it difficult to make their way.”

The pathway from PNE’s youth system to the first-team picture has been bumpy in recent seasons.

Tyrhys Dolan’s release at the end of his scholarship and him turning up in Blackburn’s first-team within a short time got plenty of criticism from the supporters.

Said Ridsdale: “We have been criticised for letting players go who are playing in other teams’ first-team.

“I would like to think we are demonstrating that the youth system is important to us.

“We’ve taken on four of last season’s second year scholars on professional contracts who will be with the first-team squad.

“There is this group of new first-year scholars to add to the lads going into their second year.”

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