Preston North End manager Ryan Lowe has hinted that some of Deepdale’s out-of-contract cohort may in fact earn an extended stay at the club.
The future of all the senior players, whose deals are expected to be completed this summer, looked bleak given their first-team minutes under Lowe and their contributions this season. But Lowe offered hope to one or two in his final pregame press conference, when he discussed recruiting and summer contracts.
The aforementioned group includes goalkeepers Connor Ripley and Mathew Hudson, defenders Joe Rafferty, Bambo Diaby and Paul Huntington, midfielders Jack Baxter, Izzy Brown and Jamie Thomas, and finally strikers Scott Sinclair, Ethan Walker and Tom Barkhuizen .
Then we have the four first-year pros in Oliver Lombard, Lewis Coulton, Jacob Holland-Wilkinson and Joe Rodwell-Grant – PNE has one-year options to trigger with all of those.
READ MORE: Ryan Lowe wants new PNE signings to help change club culture
“There are guys in and around the club whose contracts are up, but an attitude can win you a contract in my eyes,” Lowe said. “Because if you’re a good person and a good boy, and you want to set standards, then that’s important to me – and if I feel like I can work with you and coach you, and you can be something thing for the band, so I’m happy to keep people like that on board.
“Do I know who’s staying and who’s leaving? In the back of your mind you’re obviously saying, ‘Am I giving people a chance to see if they can give you something different? It’s up to me to watch. Do I know which players I want to walk through the door? One hundred percent yes.
“If I were to keep all the players out of contract, would I still be able to bring those players in? Yeah I could, but the thing is I don’t want a big massive squad, that’s what this football club has had over the years. I want a team that competes and I don’t want a lot of quantity, I want quality.”
Attitude only comes into play if the manager is willing to put you on the pitch in the first place, and so the two names that come to mind after reading these comments are Bambo Diaby and Joe Rafferty. Diaby has been hit or miss on the pitch so far, but he works incredibly hard and sounds like someone a coach would love to work with. He was signed on a short-term contract until the end of the season, with the aim of getting a longer contract.
With Rafferty, there have been recent reports that PNE are set to let him go when his contract expires. These claims didn’t come as a huge surprise given the 28-year-old’s playing time this year, but Lowe hasn’t exactly closed the door on Rafferty since he walked through the door. He brought him on at half-time as North End drew 2-2 with Sheffield United and fired him to Swansea and Derby.
If Rafferty is looking for regular minutes next season, those are unlikely to come to Deepdale. But, with Lowe talking about good characters in and around the plaza, you imagine number 15 gets a big tick in that box. He is very rarely injured and remains professional. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.
Izzy Brown also appears to be a very good individual, but Lowe nor PNE fans have yet to see him kick a ball for the club. Brown is seemingly desperate to show what he can do and repay North End’s faith and help over the past year, but his injury record is hard to ignore and Lowe wants tough footballers.
Download the LancsLive app for free at iPhone here and Android here.
Don’t miss anything from the club you love! For all the latest updates on Preston North Endsign up for our free newsletter with all the latest news here.