JAY Spearing’s Wanderers future remains up in the air after it emerged a £100,000 fee is due to Liverpool if he plays another league game this season.

Neil Lennon was forced to drop the midfielder for Saturday’s 2-1 home defeat against Preston North End after a request to defer the payment was turned down by the Premier League club.

Key man Spearing has played 22 Championship games, with the six-figure payment due on the 23rd.

“We had to leave Jay out because we can’t afford to pay money to Liverpool,” Lennon explained. “We did ask if they would defer it but they said no, and that’s fine, it’s their prerogative.

“If he plays another game we have to pay a certain amount of money to them but we can’t afford that right now.

“That leaves him in limbo, a difficult position. And that is hard to take as well because I think we missed him against Preston.”

It is understood the contract clause came as some surprise to the club’s new owners – whose takeover was only confirmed on Thursday. New chairman Ken Anderson arrives at the Macron this morning and one of his first tasks could be to convince Liverpool to delay their payment until finances are in place.

“It is early days and the guys have to get their feet under the table,” Lennon reasoned. “I know it is frustrating to them as well so I don’t think any blame should be apportioned to anyone. It’s just where we are at the minute.”

It is worth noting, however, that Spearing was loaned out to Blackburn Rovers after playing 21 Championship games last season – suggesting Wanderers may have looked to dodge this payment before.

Lennon insists he was only made aware of the clause in midweek and was planning to pick Spearing up until 24 hours before kick-off.

His replacement, Liam Trotter, scored the opening goal for Wanderers before Preston plundered two in the final half hour to continue their play-off push.

“I found out round about Wednesday,” the manager said. “It was then on and off, on and off, before finally I was told on Friday I wouldn’t be able to pick him.

“I spoke to Jay’s agent and made him aware of the situation. I then spoke to Jay before the game too. He was obviously very disappointed and we’ll have to see what we can do about it.

“He has been playing well and I didn’t want to leave him out. I thought we missed Jay's passing at times and the way he breaks play up.

“But it isn’t an excuse to lose the game. We had enough out there to win it.”