Preston boss Alex Neil wants to sign up Celtic-linked Ben Davies "as quickly as possible"

By David Walton

October 20, 2020

Preston North End manager Alex Neil wants to sign up Celtic-linked Ben Davies “as quickly as possible” as he continues to run down the final 12 months of his contract.

Davies is one of four Preston big-hitters whose deals expire in the summer. Celtic had been credited with a strong interest in recent months, with the Sun stating the Hoops were “more likely” to sign the centre-back on a pre-contract deal in January.

Celtic did bolster their centre-back position over the summer as Shane Duffy arrived on loan from Brighton until the end of the season. However, that hasn’t yet proved to have shored up our back-line.

And Neil, wary of losing his top stars to pre-contract agreements in less than three months, has explained he’s keen to sort everything out ASAP.

As quoted by Lancs Live, Neil said: “Although the four lads aren’t moving on, they’ve got limited time left and I know people might think ‘but what’s the problem?’, well the issue is we’ve got key players that are running out of time.

“From my perspective, I want to put that to bed as quickly as possible and let them focus on one thing which is getting the best results for Preston North End – I’m not suggesting that that’s not the case, but it’s always difficult when that’s hanging over your head.

“There are certain things I would like resolved but sometimes it’s not within our control to because it takes all parties to agree. I’m not going to sit here and cry about it, but is it a concern for me? Of course it is, but I need to crack on.”

Davies may want to weigh up options, but Celtic could need something more urgent

Going by Neil’s comments here, Davies isn’t exactly close to putting pen to paper on a new deal with the Championship club. That bodes well for Celtic if we’re truly looking to move for him this January.

However, unless we steady the ship at the back, it could be that we need something a touch more urgent. Signing Davies up on a pre-contract would mean the Englishman would only arrive in the summer – after the 10-in-a-row season.

Right now, all of our focus should be fixated on improving areas for this season. Of course, when players are signed on a pre-contract, it naturally becomes a tad easier to negotiate an immediate arrival. But Neil sounds dead against that, and has hardly lowered his valuation of him over the summer.

Celtic-linked Preston centre-back Ben Davies (Photo by Kevin Barnes – CameraSport via Getty Images)

For now, we’ll continue to monitor the situation no doubt. Davies won’t be short of suitors, especially if the centre-back could be nabbed for absolutely nothing.

But Neil Lennon will likely only be concerned about what he’s got at his disposal at the minute. With six centre-back options already at the club, it seems foolish to add another before we allow one or two to depart.

Yet unless we manage to provide more solidity at the back in the coming weeks, it’s something the club will need to consider.

In other news, a Premiership manager has predicted “dire” consequences if fans aren’t allowed back into stadiums.