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Reported Celtic and Newcastle United target Ben Pearson is planning a move away from Preston North End in 2021, Lilywhites manager Alex Neil told the Lancashire Evening Post.

While Preston fans will be disappointed to learn that their star midfielder wants out of Deepdale, at least the Championship outfit have already signed a readymade replacement.

The £1.5 million arrival of Ben Whiteman from Doncaster Rovers last week has given Preston a bit of wriggle-room when it comes to the future of Pearson, who is out of contract in July and therefore may be sold before the month is out.

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The Sun (3 November, page 61) reports that Burnley are big fans of the one-time Manchester United youngster, as are West Brom and Celtic (Daily Mail).

And Neil’s comments seem to suggest that Pearson will be heading out of the door sooner rather than later.

“I think Ben has made it clear to us that his future doesn’t lie here come the end of the season,” said the former Norwich boss, who is also at risk of losing play-maker Daniel Johnson and towering centre-back Ben Davies.

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“There is no point us going strengthening positions and bringing in players if I’m not going to give them a shot and play them.”

“Yes, at the moment DJ (Johnson) is much more likely than what Ben Pearson would be, that is fair to say.”

An aggressive, dynamic and technically gifted central midfielder, Pearson followed in the footsteps of such legends as Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes by winning the prestigious Jimmy Murphy Young Player of the Year award during his time at Old Trafford in 2013.

If he moves north of the border, Pearson could complete an industrious, new-look midfield alongside Ismaila Soro and David Turnbull at Celtic.

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