Dave Seddon's PNE pressview: Ryan '˜Lego' Ledson the building block for further arrivals

Preston North End set the ball rolling on their summer transfer business this week with the signing of Ryan Ledson.

By The Newsroom
Saturday, 19th May 2018, 10:00 am
Preston North End Football ClubPreston North End new signing Ryan Ledson
Preston North End Football ClubPreston North End new signing Ryan Ledson

It was appropriate that a player nicknamed ‘Lego’ should be first in, the new boy being the building block to which further arrivals can be added.

His signing did not come as much of a surprise when you bear in mind North End tried to get him in January and made no secret of their pursuit.

Peter Ridsdale and Alex Neil were seen on a chilly Tuesday night at The Valley, home of Charlton, checking Ledson out in a Checkatrade Trophy game.

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The purpose of their visit was twofold – to see Ledson in action for Oxford against Charlton and also to try and meet the then U’s owner to open dialogue.

Part one they managed but hopes of starting any sort of negotiations that night, and indeed through January, failed.

Oxford wanted their man to stay for the remainder of the season and got their way.

A change of ownership at Oxford and reaching the end of the campaign saw a shift in position.

North End got the deal for Ledson over the line late on Thursday afternoon after some tooing and froing with Thailand where Oxford’s owner Sumrith Thanakarnjanasuth – more commonly known as Tiger – is based currently.

It seems it wasn’t the smoothest of deals to do and its completion came as a big relief to all concerned.

Ledson fits the Preston buying model to perfection, with him ticking all boxes.

To start with he is young, only turning 21 a fortnight into next season.

Ledson is on the way up in terms of this being his first taste of the Championship.

He’s played in Leagues One and Two, having had a loan spell at Cambridge in the bottom division before joining Oxford.

Others in the PNE squad have a similar background, think Tom Barkhuizen and Billy Bodin – Ben Davies too who dropped down to play in non-league, League Two and League One on loan.

Ledson came through the Everton ranks, making an appearance in the Europa League when aged 17.

That was the midfielder’s one first-team game in a blue shirt before a desire to play regular football took him away from Goodison Park.

You could put Callum Robinson, Ben Pearson, Josh Harrop and Daniel Johnson in the same boat.

Robinson and DJ both started at Aston Villa when they were in the Premier League. Pearson and Harrop came through at Manchester United.

What made for a pleasant change when Ledson joined this week was the amount of good wishes extended his way from Oxford supporters on Twitter.

The trend in football has generally been for fans of the selling club to go down the ‘he’s not that good anyway, we won’t miss him’ route.

But the vibe coming out of Oxford when news broke of the deal, was a very positive one in the main. Footage of a tackle made by Ledson in his Under-18s days at Everton, was shared on social media.

If you get a chance to see it, perhaps watch when the kids are not around and it is best viewed from the safety of behind the sofa.

Let’s just say not even Ben Pearson has come close to something like that!

Talking of Pearson, the signing of Ledson naturally started tongues wagging about his future.

A Sunday paper report had claimed that should Preston land Ledson, it would allow the big-money sale of Pearson.

That piece of news got a swift rebuttal from inside the corridors of Deepdale, the message being that Ledson was there to complement Pearson.

Alex Neil’s quotes which followed Ledson’s signing suggested he was more of a replacement for John Welsh within the squad.

Like any other Preston fan I hope indeed that is the case – Pearson, Ledson, Alan Browne, Harrop, maybe DJ and maybe another, makes for a rather exciting set of midfielders.

I say ‘maybe DJ’ purely on the basis that speculation is doing the rounds of interest from elsewhere as he goes into the final 12 months of his contract.

Should he stay, there still seems room for another new face in the engine room.

A final word on Ledson is what a young pup he looked on his signing photographs.

The phrase used to be that you knew you were getting old when policeman were looking young, now you can apply that to footballers.

When Ledson popped into the world in August 1997, Jon Macken and Michael Appleton had just signed for PNE from Manchester United – think about that for a moment and try and deny you feel old!

It was a busy old week for ex- North End managers and caretaker bosses.

Graham Alexander got the Salford job on Monday, one which must be one of the most coveted outside of the Football League.

Two days later, David Moyes and Sam Allardyce bid farewell to West Ham and Everton respectively.

Best of luck to Grezza and I’m sure Moyes and Big Sam will be back in work quite soon.