According to Doncaster Free Press, Doncaster Rovers don’t intend to sell captain Ben Whiteman before Friday’s transfer deadline.
The League One side aren’t under any pressure to sell, and feel safe having handed him a new three-and-a-half-year deal in November. Barnsley, Blackburn Rovers and Derby County are the latest clubs to be linked, whilst Hull City had bids rejected last summer.
The report even notes that Preston had been interested too, though that may have been last summer, before a deal was struck for Coventry City’s Tom Bayliss.
Still, it would be no surprise to see Preston keeping tabs on Whiteman, and we believe they have indeed looked at him in the past. After all, a replacement for Ben Pearson may just be needed in the summer.
Pearson will have just a year left on his deal come the summer, and if North End miss out on promotion, there’s a strong chance he will be sold. Ryan Ledson maybe hasn’t quite shown enough to suggest that he can replace Pearson, so having some potential targets in mind is smart.
Preston would need a player who can dictate the play from deep but also get stuck in and protect the back four, and Whiteman ticks all those boxes. Whiteman has won 50 tackles this season, putting him in the top 20 in that stat category in League One, whilst only three players have recorded more than Whiteman’s 49 interceptions.
He’s even managed 33 key passes – passes leading to shots – which is in the top 30 in League One. These stats point to a player who can fill a similar kind of role to Pearson, especially having played as a holding midfielder for Doncaster, whilst he has shown his leadership ability by serving as Doncaster’s captain this season.
Fans may remember Whiteman starring against Preston in the FA Cup last season, and North End surely took notice of him then. Finding a player who is both combative and able to dictate play from deep isn’t easy, but Whiteman ticks the boxes.
He won’t be a Preston target this week, but it would be little surprise to see North End have a look in the summer, in the hope that Doncaster’s stance may just change.