By Wayne Veysey

4th Jan, 2021 | 1:47pm

Sources: Preston North End in pole position to sign midfielder ahead of Championship rivals

Preston North End are leading the race to sign in-demand Doncaster Rovers midfielder Ben Whiteman, Football Insider can reveal.

The Championship club are working on a deal for the 24-year-old midfielder this month.

Whiteman has also been linked with Blackburn Rovers and Bristol City but Football Insider has been told that Preston are in pole position.

The Lilywhites are in the market for midfielder reinforcements with key players Daniel Johnson, Ben Pearson and Alan Browne all entering the final six months of their contract.

The trio have all been linked with moves away and are free to negotiate pre-contract agreements with foreign clubs this month.

Peter Ridsdale, the owner’s representative at PNE, has insisted the club have offered them “substantial” new contracts but it looks unlikely they will commit their future to the club.

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If they were to leave it would leave manager Alex Neil with the inexperienced Tom Bayliss, veteran Paul Gallagher and Ryan Ledson as his only central-midfield options.

Whiteman has been an ever-present in League One for Rovers this season and has contributed three goals and five assists in 18 games.

LancsLive reported earlier this month the Rochdale-born ace is keen on a move to Deepdale.

He almost made the step-up to the Championship in the summer with Rovers’ Yorkshire rivals Barnsley seeing a £1.3million bid rejected.

The midfielder has been a standout performer in the third tier since moving to the Keepmoat, initially on loan, from Sheffield United in 2017.

He has played 159 times for Rovers and became club captain in August 2019.

In other news, Football Insider can reveal Preston North End are in advanced talks to sign a Fleetwood striker.