This article is part of Football League World’s ‘Terrace Talk‘ series, which provides personal opinions from our FLW Fan Pundits regarding the latest breaking news, teams, players, managers, potential signings and more…
Joe Rafferty is set to depart Preston North End this summer when his contract comes to an end at Deepdale, according to Alan Nixon.
The 28-year-old has been at the Lilywhites since January 2019 when the Championship club snapped him up from Rochdale as competition for Darnell Fisher at right-back.
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Despite playing 29 times in the league in his first full season in 2019-20, Rafferty has never really established himself as a regular player at North End and has been restricted to just four appearances in 2021-22.
The former Liverpool youth player will exit the club this summer and according to FLW’s PNE fan pundit Sam Weeden, North End are making the right decision with a big clear-out needed ahead of the new campaign.
“I’m not particularly surprised to see him going,” Sam said.
“I think he’s certainly struggled in the last 18 months to nail down a regular place and when he has got little runs in the side, especially recently in the three or five-back system he has struggled.
“I think when he came in he did a job, we had injury issues with Josh Earl and Andrew Hughes during his first season and he ended up shifting to left-back and that naturally limited us going forward being a right-footer on the left side, but I felt he did a job and certainly didn’t disgrace himself.
“However, I think a Championship full-back needs to be defensively competent which Rafferty is but I think they need to offer something going forward and I think Rafferty doesn’t have that, and to be fair I’ve never really been his biggest fan due to that.
“I think every time he’s played, we’ve struggled to create chances through the overlapping full-backs under Alex Neil and especially now in Ryan Lowe’s system where he relies on a lot of creativity in those wing-back areas – Rafferty doesn’t give us that so I’m not surprised to see him go.
“As for the level I think he’ll land at, I think he’ll do a job as a rotation player in League One and he’d definitely start for a League Two club, but in terms of him leaving us I’d say thank you very much, you’ve come in and given your all – no qualms at that but it’s probably best for both parties if he moves on.”
It certainly appears that Ryan Lowe has made his mind up on some of the out of contract players at North End and who will be there next season – and Rafferty won’t be one of them.
He had some solid performances under Alex Neil but there was nothing flashy about his abilities and if he had attacking output then he didn’t really show it.
For where Preston North End want to be in the next few years under Lowe, they need better players in the wing-back areas and unfortunately for Rafferty he will be part of the cull.
He should be able to find himself a club in League One though where he can feature week in, week out – perhaps a reunion with Alex Neil at Sunderland could work out for him.