ANDY Holt insists Stanley have no need to sell any of their first team players after the Reds rejected an offer for Callum Johnson from Championship side Preston North End.

Alex Neil’s side made a bid for the 22-year-old, believed to be in excess of £300,000, but Stanley turned it down.

North End may return with a higher offer for the youngster and it is understood any deal would include a sell-on fee for Stanley. It remains unclear whether Middlesbrough included a sell-on in the deal which took Johnson to the Wham Stadium permanently last January.

Johnson could be the second Stanley player to head to North End with Preston confirming the signing of goalkeeper Connor Ripley, who spent the first half of the season on loan with the Reds, on a permanent deal from Middlesbrough.

But Accrington are under no pressure to sell Johnson who is contracted at the club until next summer.

It is understood that other Championship clubs are monitoring the former Middlesbrough man who did not feature in the midweek Checkatrade Trophy defeat to Bury with Accrington chief John Coleman saying after the game that Johnson was injured.

The full back, who first joined Stanley on loan from Boro in August 2017 before making the move permanent last January, is understood to have a slight groin problem.

He has been a regular at right back for the Reds, making more than 50 appearances for the club.

But Reds chairman Holt said Johnson, and the rest of Coleman’s first team squad, would not be sold unless the offer was too good to turn down.

“I am not looking to sell any of our players,” said Holt.

“There has been interest in Callum and there has been a bid but not to the value where we will consider selling him.

“We do not need to sell any of our players and we want to make the club stronger not weaker.

“If someone comes in with an offer that we can’t refuse then we can’t refuse it. But that hasn’t happened.”

Stanley are set to lose loan keeper Ripley with Preston closing in on a permanent deal for the Middlesbrough man.

Ripley joined the Reds on a season-long loan deal from the Riverside Stadium in August but the switch included a January recall and Boro have opted to cash in on the 25-year-old.

Ripley has been a permanent fixture in the Stanley starting XI this term, making 24 appearances and his departure would be a blow to Coleman.

The Reds have Jonny Maxted and youngster Toby Savin on their books but would likely look to add another goalkeeper should Ripley leave.

One target could be a loan move for Preston’s Michael Crowe who played in the FA Cup defeat to Doncaster last weekend.

The 22-year-old joined Preston from Ipswich in the summer but has fallen down the pecking order now Ripley has arrived.

Meanwhile, the Reds are closing in on a deal for Newcastle United youngster Liam Gibson with the left back expected to join in time to feature against Bristol Rovers on Saturday.

Stanley are also understood to be monitoring Middlesbrough forward Luke Armstrong.

The Reds are keen to bring the 22-year-old in on loan to strengthen their attacking options.

Armstrong spent the first half of this season on loan at Gateshead in the National League, scoring 10 goals in 18 appearances.

Boro recalled him from that spell and handed him a new contract and see a Football League club as the next stage of his development.

Armstrong is well thought of at Boro but has yet to make a senior appearance for Tony Pulis’ side, but he did feature for the club’s Under-23s in the Checkatrade Trophy last season, scoring three goals in three games including one in a 3-2 defeat to Stanley.