Simon Grayson is hopeful of having Andy Little fit to bolster Preston North End’s injury-hit forward line for the weekend visit to Coventry City.
The Lilywhites boss has lost Kevin Davies to a broken rib for the next month, while Jordan Hugill’s absence with a knee injury will stretch into 2015.
Little looks set for a return in time for the weekend after a short spell on the sidelines with a muscle strain.
The extent of the injuries and length of the absences for both Davies and Hugill came as a surprise in the latter stages of last week. Davies, 37, broke a rib in the Walsall game after coming on as a substitute.
But it was only a few days later – and after he had been in the squad for the 3-3 draw with Chesterfield – that the fracture was diagnosed.
When Hugill went in for exploratory knee surgery last Thursday, it was expected that relatively minor damage would be found and repaired.
The young striker had in fact suffered a micro-fracture of the cartilage which will keep him out for up to six months.
Grayson said: “Kevin Davies was available to us against Chesterfield after getting the knock at Walsall.
“When he trained on Friday he felt something and we sent him for an X-ray ,which showed a broken rib.
“I never had an injury like that as a player but I’m told by those who have broken a rib that it is painful just to walk around, let alone go training like Kevin did.
“It just shows what he wants to do for this club but unfortunately we are going to be without him for a month.
“With Jordan, we thought it might have been a slight tear of the meniscus in the cartilage, which is normally four to six weeks out.
“Instead, the damage was a lot more serious, which is devastating for the lad. He is probably going to be out for six months.
“That is a massive blow for the lad because he was doing ever so well for us and settling in well at the club.
“It was something that was so innocuous which caused the injury.
“Jordan is a great lad. He has worked extremely hard since joining us and was becoming a fans’ favourite with his whole-hearted performances.
“We have lost him and Kevin but we still have quite a bit of firepower up there and hopefully Andy Little should be for Saturday.”
Little was injured at Walsall inside the first 20 minutes, his replacement being Hugill who was later sent off – after he had picked up the knee injury.
The options up front for Grayson as things stand are leading scorer Joe Garner, Callum Robinson, who joined on loan from Aston Villa last week, Little – if fit – and Paul Gallagher.
Youngster Jack Ryan has also been recalled from his loan spell at Stockport County, where he scored four goals in five games.
Robinson’s loan from Villa can be extended without limit as it is a youth loan, the initial deal running until October 18.
The emergency loan market does provide North End with the option of strengthening further, the window open until late November.