Preston North End Summer Squad Rundown: The Defenders


Over the summer, there will be a multitude of Preston players that are out of contract, leaving the club after the end of their loan deals and that will be offered to other clubs in a bid to offload them.

It really will be a summer refresh for new boss Ryan Lowe and he’ll have a big task on his hands but it could be a challenge that he will revel in, as he can bring in exactly the kind of players he wants and mould the squad to his liking.

PNE will want to try and kick on and look towards promotion this season, having fell to midtable at the back end of this campaign despite looking much brighter under their new manager. But who looks likely to leave? Who should stay at all costs?

Here then, is a full rundown of each position in the squad (youngsters included) and whether they should stay or go (or leave on loan too). Next up? The defenders:

Andrew Hughes

Arguably the most improved player this season and a real contender for the Player of the Season award. Has been excellent in a back three and can still do a job on the left if necessary too. He’ll definitely be in and around the first-team picture going forward and he’ll likely be kept on going forward.

Josh Earl

There’s been a bit of a mixed reaction to Josh Earl this season but what is clear is that there is talent there – it just might not be clear when he plays at LWB. In terms of Lowe’s system, he clearly isn’t favoured in that position but there is potential there and it might mean a move more centrally in the future. Either way, he should still be kept on as an option despite what many in the fanbase think of him.

Joe Rafferty

His deal is up in the summer and it looks like it could be the end of the road for Rafferty. Lowe does like him and they know each other from working together previously but he wasn’t the best option before the former Plymouth man took over and he’s not a wing-back either, meaning it would be fruitless to keep him in this current system. Could certainly get games elsewhere so might be worth letting him find a new team this summer.

Matthew Olosunde

He’s been left out of the 25-man squad completely, so you’d have to think that he isn’t a real big part of Ryan Lowe’s plans and doesn’t fit into what he wants from a RWB. If that is the case, then it would be worth listening to offers for him this summer. However, that doesn’t make him a bad option and with some full-backs likely to exit in the off-season, if he doesn’t leave it wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing.

Lewis Coulton

He has a one-year option on his current contract and with the player still only young and relatively unproven, it would be stupid not to at least let him prove himself. I’d take that option and send him out on a loan for a year again higher up to see how he fares.

Josh Seary

Another youngster who looks fairly talented, he might not be near the first-team squad but he should certainly be kept on and either utilised when he can or sent out on a short-term basis.

Sepp van den Berg

Another likely summer departure that might have a few PNE fans weeping is van den Berg. He’s been excellent during his loan spell from Liverpool and has shown a passion and love for the club that not many other short-term signings do. He has been nothing short of top-class and it will be a real shame to lose him. Again, if funds magically become available, he’d be one we need to throw money at – but it looks likely he’ll return to Liverpool and play a part there at some point in the future.

Bambo Diaby

Diaby was signed up to a short-term deal in January and should be kept on for next season too. He’s had two good games and one really shaky appearance but that is to be expected after so long out of the game. He can be a good option in the centre of defence – and if he stays too, it might open the door for another CB to leave elsewhere. Diaby though should stay.

Paul Huntington

Hunts is a club hero and a club legend already and to be honest, he could probably do a job now still in defence if you asked him! As it stands though, there is simply no room for him in the squad and with his contract up, it looks likely that he will be let go. A future coaching role beckons though hopefully and he should also be given one final run out at Deepdale before he does leave.

Patrick Bauer

A usually solid and reliable presence at the back, his form has been up and down in recent months and then he was hit with an injury which pulled him out of the first-team reckoning. Certainly won’t be going anywhere though and can still play a regular part in the team and can be someone Lowe can rely on.

Liam Lindsay

Despite some patchy showings from Liam Lindsay, I might not let him go in a hurry if I was Ryan Lowe. If an offer came in, I would be tempted to part ways with the player but he has stepped in throughout the season – the Fulham game for example – and done a very respectable job. Can be a good rotational option if needed so might be worth holding onto.

Jordan Storey

Based on how he has fared since joining Sheffield Wednesday on loan, you would have to think it is worth keeping and using him next season. The defender has been very impressive for the Owls and their supporters are clamouring to try and sign him permanently in the summer. Lowe was the one who sent him out on a short-term basis in the first place and it therefore might mean he could up for grabs at the end of the season – but I think he’d be a great defensive option to keep. I’ve included him as one who could leave if a bid came in purely because Lowe was happy to let him go out on loan but I think it would be worth holding onto the player.

Greg Cunningham

He’s still under contract and right now, he’s the best LWB option at the club. More of a LB normally but has fared reasonably well when called upon by Ryan Lowe. His injury came at a bad time and hopefully he’ll come back and play a part next season – but more likely as a backup or in rotation for the next campaign.

Definite keeps: Andrew Hughes, Josh Earl, Bambo Diaby, Patrick Bauer, Liam Lindsay/Jordan Storey

Keeps – but could be tempted to let leave if a bid comes in: Matthew Olosunde, Greg Cunningham, Jordan Storey/Liam Lindsay

Loan Move: Lewis Coulton, Josh Seary

Likely to leave: Joe Rafferty, Sepp van den Berg, Paul Huntington

Is defence an area of need?: At wing-back, most definitely. It’s arguably the biggest position of need and there will be recruits needed on both flanks, on the left and right. Brad Potts can fill in on the right but he’s more of a midfielder and should become a backup option there after this campaign (or at least one in rotation). On the left, Cunningham and Earl can both play there but neither are exact fits for it (and if the former is let go, then even more reason to search for new options). Olosunde is another name who could grow to fill that role but right now his situation is really unclear as to whether he stays or leaves.

In the centre, we should have at least three definite options and then one of, if not both of Jordan Storey and Liam Lindsay, so that is less of an important area to recruit in this off-season – especially if Storey comes back and really performs as he did at Sheffield Wednesday.

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