Josh Ginnelly is set for a summer exit from Preston North End, with Hearts manager Robbie Neilson pretty much confirming the inevitable.
The 23-year-old joined North End in January 2019, arriving from Walsall for a cut-price fee and some saw him as the future successor to Callum Robinson, who ended up departing PNE six months later.
Ginnelly got a bit of a rough ride at PNE though, making just five league appearances – all off the bench – in his first half-season at the club and his last league outing came in September 2019 against Bristol City.
It seemed as though Alex Neil felt that Ginnelly wasn’t good enough to be playing, so he was shipped out on loan to Bristol Rovers until COVID-19 curtailed the campaign in March 2020.
He may have finally found a new permanent home though as his latest temporary spell has been quite fruitful in Scotland’s capital – he’s scored four goals in 10 games but he’s been blighted by injuries at the same time.
A hamstring rupture has ended Ginnelly’s season early, but it does sound like he is wanted beyond the end of the current season at Tynecastle.
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Speaking on the winger’s injury, Neilson admitted he’s waiting to see how the recovery process goes, but he’s pretty sure that Ginnelly will be available at the end of the season.
“We’re just letting it lie at the moment, see how his rehab goes and take it from there. There’s no rush on it,” Neilson told the Edinburgh Evening News.
“He is still here, part of the group and getting his treatment here. He is a good character to have about the place.
“It’s all dependant on the parent club and what they want to do.
“Josh is out of contract in the summer at Preston and I think it looks like he probably won’t get another deal down there.”
Some believe that Ginnelly never received a fair crack of the whip at Deepdale, but Alex Neil will have seen enough of him in training to form his own conclusions.
Ginnelly was a cheap punt at the end of the day – sometimes they work out and other times they don’t – but there’s a real chance that he can succeed up in Scotland should Hearts offer him a permanent contract.
The only real issue would be the fact that he’s suffered a pretty nasty injury – speed is one of Ginnelly’s key features and a hamstring rupture could really damage that explosiveness that he possesses.