Simon Grayson has not ruled out a return to Deepdale for Paddy McCarthy in the future after his loan spell with Preston North End was cut short by injury.
The experienced centre-half damaged the medial ligament in his right knee just nine minutes into his PNE debut at Sheffield Wednesday on October 3.
McCarthy is back at parent club Crystal Palace having treatment and the 93-day loan has been halted.
However, the door is open for a return further down the line should North End need to strengthen their defence.
Lilywhites manager Grayson told the Evening Post: “We have got an agreement with Crystal Palace, the financial aspect has been sorted.
“Paddy is still a month away from being fit.
“Palace have been very good with us about this and we thank them for that.
“We have an agreement with them that if and when we want Paddy back, they will be very happy to do something again.
“Circumstances might have changed a little bit now in that we have players coming back from injury.
“But who knows where we might be in a few weeks?
“We were really pleased that Paddy helped us out in the first place by coming here on loan and we were pleased that Palace allowed it to happen.
“He has been back with them since the injury, getting the treatment.
“His family live down there so it made sense for him to be back at Palace.
“While we only saw Paddy briefly – in training before the Sheffield Wednesday game and then for the nine minutes up to suffering the injury, in that time he was a credit to himself.
“We brought him in for his experience and leadership and in the dressing room before the Wednesday game, he was getting among the lads and passing his experience on to them.
“He’s kept in touch with us and has been wishing the lads well for the games.
“They are unfortunate circumstances that he got injured in.
“But the loan is something we could still potentially do again.”
North End made their move for McCarthy at a time when Bailey Wright was suspended and Paul Huntington injured.
Wright returned from that ban and has played in the last six games, while Huntington is now fully fit after a hamstring problem.
The defensive options could also be increased by a return for skipper Tom Clarke after the international break.
Clarke damaged cartilage in his right shoulder after falling awkwardly on it during the goalless draw with Cardiff at Deepdale four weeks ago.
He is back training and has another week to work on his fitness ahead of the derby with Blackburn Rovers.
In Clarke’s absence, Calum Woods and Greg Cunningham have played to good effect in the centre of defence – North End are currently on a run of six successive clean sheets.