Bolton Wanderers’ financial woes continue, with players refusing to train until their March wages are paid. Along with the strike, games against Ipswich Town and Middlesbrough could now be called off.
The Trotters are in grave danger unless a buyer can be found for the club, with administration looking increasingly likely. It seems inevitable that some players will move on to pastures new, though few fit the Preston bill.
The Bolton News did though report in December that Preston were interested in two Bolton players. Their names weren’t revealed, and no January moves materialised anyway.
Most of the Bolton squad are in their late 20’s, so don’t really mesh well with Preston’s strategy. Yet one player does tick boxes for North End, and he’d be a major coup.
Midfielder Luca Connell has emerged into the first team this season, earning rave reviews for his displays. Despite being just 17, Connell has looked so mature and composed on the ball, arguably even more so than his teammates.
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His tenacity has shone through in dark times for Bolton, and he looks destined for a bright future. He’s been left on the bench lately, leaving some fans to wonder just why Phil Parkinson won’t start him.
Regardless, Connell is set for a big move in the near future. The Daily Mail note that Brighton, Burnley, Southampton and Tottenham are all keeping tabs on Connell, but Preston should follow suit. He’s young, talented and a Republic of Ireland youth international, which may have put him on the radar.
Taking on four Premier League clubs seems like a waste of time, but Deepdale could be a fine place for Connell to develop. He’d remain close to home and play under a manager who values young players in Alex Neil. Going to a Premier League club is all well and good, but it’s a risk. Having had a taste of Championship football, he could experience more of that with Preston.
North End have previously ‘helped out’ cash-strapped clubs with low fees for young talents. Tom Barkhuizen was the first in late 2016, with Preston paying Morecambe compensation to pay their bills in exchange for Barkhuizen. A similar deal materialised for Connor Simpson last year, when the Hartlepool striker was a Premier League target.
Preston should be looking to try a similar strategy with Connell. There’s a chance he’ll be Premier League bound, and North End may lose out. Yet having cleverly raided struggling clubs for youngsters in the past, we should certainly at least make an attempt for Connell.