PNE pair on disciplinary knife-edge amid Hugill transfer rumours
Preston pair Jordan Hugill and Ben Pearson are walking a disciplinary tightrope after being booked at Millwall.
Hugill’s yellow card was his eighth of the campaign and Pearson got his ninth.
A 10th caution triggers a two-game suspension and the FA’s amnesty is not until March.
Pearson always plays close to the edge and bookings are an occupational hazard.
North End boss Alex Neil felt the yellow card which the midfielder got at The Den was harsh.
He appeared to be booked for dissent by Carnforth referee Jeremy Simpson after a foul on Jed Wallace.
Neil said: “I think he might have got it for dissent which was disappointing because I didn’t think he deserved it.
“Ben’s frustration was the same as mine.
“Within a game there are a lot of 50/50 decisions which you hope get spilt evenly.
“I didn’t think we got our fair share at Millwall.”
Hugill’s booking came for ‘unsporting behaviour’ when he blocked a goalkick from Jordan Archer.
Paul Huntington is also on eight yellows, while Darnell Fisher and Daniel Johnson have seven apiece. Hugill’s appearances of late have come against a backdrop of the transfer window and the inevitable speculation over his future.
The striker was a wanted man in 2017, with four clubs bidding for him.
This time last year Ipswich were chasing him, offering £1.5m for him.
In the summer, Wolves, Birmingham and Reading joined the hunt.
By late August, Reading had seen an £8m offer turned down.
The opening of the January window has seen plenty of talk about his future but not much in the way of any substance.
Leeds were reported to have shown an interest but their budget is unlikely to stretch to being able to make a substantial bid for one player.
There has been talk of Bristol City looking at Hugill.
But would North End want to sell to a club within a few points of them in the table?
Preston hold a strong hand of cards given that Hugill has 18 months still to run on his contract.
It will be the summer when the clock starts to tick.
With another fortnight of the window remaining, there are bound to be more links and rumours doing the rounds.
The immediate focus for Hugill will be Birmingham’s visit on Saturday, and a goal or two rather than a yellow card.