Preston North End midfielder Ben Pearson is not being punished for his contract stance says Alex Neil
Preston North End manager Alex Neil has stressed that Ben Pearson is not being punished for his contract stance.
Neil will select others in midfield ahead of Pearson as the 26-year-old runs down his Deepdale contract.
He knows Pearson will be leaving at some stage, either in this window or in June, and wants to bed others into his position for the long term.
After the 2-0 defeat at Bristol City last Saturday, Neil spoke briefly about the matter.
On Monday he developed the topic during his pre-match press conference for Wednesday night's visit to Birmingham City
Asked by the Lancashire Post whether Pearson could realistically expect to come into contention again, Neil said: “You can never say never.
“I wouldn’t have taken Ben down to Bristol City on Saturday and sat him in the stand as if it was some sort of punishment.
“This is not a punishment for Ben, it really isn’t.
“Myself and Ben have had lengthy discussions, we know where we stand.
“Everyone knows what I think of Ben, I have labelled him for the last three years as the best ‘six’ in the Championship. That opinion hasn’t changed for me. The dynamics of what we have had to do and what Ben’s situation is, ultimately at this point are not really aligned.
“If I said to Ben he was starting on Saturday, Ben would happily get himself ready and be available to play.
“I would never say at any point that Ben is not up for consideration, because he is.”
Daniel Johnson and Ben Davies are in the same boat in terms of their contracts.
Neil played both of them at Bristol City and believes they fall into a slightly different category than Pearson does at present.
“I think their circumstances are different,” said Neil.
“One, we haven’t recruited in those areas as such and two, probably in DJ’s case we are hoping he will choose to stay.
“My discussions with DJ haven’t gone along similar lines to how they did with Ben Pearson.”
Signed from Manchester United for £300,000 five years ago, Pearson has made 165 appearances for PNE.
Two injuries this season have limited him to eight league starts – the last of those against Wycombe in December halted after 30 minutes by an ankle injury.
It is that ligament damage which he has just recovered from, with him now back in full training.
Thanks for reading. If you value what we do and are able to support us, a digital subscription is just £1 per month for the first two months. Try us today by clicking here