PNE advisor Ridsdale's Irish trip had a dual purpose

Preston's interest in striker Graham Burke is still very much in the early stages.

Monday, 4th June 2018, 3:15 pm
Updated Monday, 4th June 2018, 3:17 pm
Graham Burke in action for the Republic of Ireland against the United States on Saturday night

The 24-year-old scored in the Republic of Ireland’s 2-1 win over the United States on Saturday, a game watched by Peter Ridsdale.

In doing so, the Shamrock Rovers frontman became the first player from a League of Ireland club to find the net for the Irish since 1978.

The fact that Ridsdale was in the crowd at Dublin’s Aviva Stadium for the friendly, attracted its fair share of attention.

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It led to speculation that North End were ready to make an offer for Burke who previously played in English football with Aston Villa, Notts County and Shrewsbury.

Although Preston have not denied their interest, they are not at the stage yet of making a bid for a player who has 18 months left on his contract.

It is understood that the primary reason for Ridsdale’s visit was to meet up with the Lilywhites trio of Alan Browne, Greg Cunningham and Daryl Horgan who were in the Ireland squad.

All are in contract talks at the moment, midfielder Browne a player who conducts his own negotiations.

The visit did give Ridsdale the chance to run the rule over Burke though, with the Irish market one which the club have shopped in extensively over the last couple of years.

If Ridsdale’s trip was to be followed up, Burke would more be seen as someone who can play wide or behind the main striker rather than as an out-and-out No.9.

Preston have other targets for the centre-forward role as part of their efforts to bolster the squad this summer.

Burke started his career with Villa, making two substitute appearances in the League Cup.

He went on loan to Notts County and Shrewsbury and then signed for the Magpies on a permanent deal in 2015.

In January 2017, Burke moved back to Ireland to join Shamrock.

His form there this season prompted his call-up to the Ireland squad.

Burke’s goal against the USA was a tap-in but it broke a 40-year record.

Not since April 1978 had a player with a League of Ireland club scored for the Republic.

That was done by another Shamrock player Ray Treacy, who had a three-year stay with PNE between 1973 and 1976.

Burke’s goal brought the Irish level on Saturday, and he was replaced soon after by North End winger Horgan.

Brentford’s Alan Judge scored a late winner.