Friday, 8 July 2011

Lonergan Rejects Leeds Move

North End’s Andrew Lonergan could be heading to Everton after rejecting the chance to join Leeds United.
The Preston goalkeeper spent time training with the Toffees last season as part of the deal which brought Iain Tuner to Deepdale on loan.Lonergan now looks set for a move to the blue half of Merseyside, which would see him re-united with David Moyes who gave him his first-team debut as a teenager.Earlier this week, North End agreed to sell the 27-year-old to Leeds.But after holding talks with the Championship side, he turned down the move to Elland Road.Everton, in the meantime, expressed their interest in Lonergan and are understood to have been in contact with PNE about doing a deal.If Lonergan moves to the Premier League club, North End will replace him with Turner.The Scotsman, who played 17 games on loan for Phil Brown’s men last term, left Everton over the summer after coming to the end of his contract.He turned down the offer of a new deal there in pursuit of regular first-team football.Because of the budget restraints at Deepdale, North End are having to wait to sell Lonergan before bringing Turner in.

It is thought that the fee agreed with Leeds was in the region of £200,000 – a low figure bearing in mind PNE knocked back a £1.5m offer from West Bromwich Albion a year ago.

But cutting the wage bill has been the club’s priority in readiness for League One.

Preston-born Lonergan made his debut in a League Cup tie against Coventry in September 2000 when he was 16.

Later that season, he made his league bow in a televised 3-2 win over Watford.

He recovered from two serious knee injuries early in his career to establish himself as PNE’s No.1 during the 2006/07 season.

From then until February this year, Lonergan was unchallenged as first choice, save for a short spell when the gloves were given to Wayne Henderson.

He was the club’s Player of the Year in the 2009/10 campaign.

But Turner’s arrival on loan saw him having to play second fiddle for the last three months of the season.

If Lonergan does move to Goodison Park, he’d be second choice behind Tim Howard.

There would also be competition from Slovakia international Jan Mucha who has been restricted to just two Carling Cup appearances since joining the Toffees.

Speaking recently about the goalkeeping situation, PNE boss Phil Brown said: “Andrew Lonergan has got the ability to play Premier League football, it’s just a case of someone willing to put a bid on the table for him.

“With regards to Iain Turner, he turned down a new contract at Everton this summer for one reason only. It wasn’t for the colour of the pound, it was because he’s got to the stage of his career where he wants to play regular first-team football. Unfortunately, we can’t carry both Iain and Andrew in the same ship.”

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