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PNE boss targets loan signings

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Graham Westley has turned to the loan market in a bid to bolster the Preston North End squad for the run-in to the end of the season.

He was hoping to get a couple of deals done today in time for tomorrow’s visit to relegation-threatened Exeter.

North End are carrying a number of injuries in key areas at the moment.

It’s likely that a striker will be high on the shopping list, while the centre of midfield could get some attention too.

The Football League’s loan window is open until next Thursday.

North End head to St James Park for the first time in over 16 years tomorrow in desperate need of a victory.

They find themselves in 15th place at the moment, a little too close for comfort to the relegation dogfight.

Another nine points are probably needed to guarantee safety and have the PNE fans breathing a little easier.

Westley admits the League One table and form guide doesn’t make for comfortable reading.

And he knows that points need to be picked up quickly to offer optimism in the months ahead.

The PNE boss said: “I’m a realist and can look up and down the league table.

“Results over the last few months would probably have us sat bottom of the league.

“No one needs telling that results haven’t been good enough.

“We are not in good shape, and my job is to produce a team which wins games and takes points.

“I need to put the club in a position where it can really look forward to next season with optimism.

“Like everyone else, I want to get points on the board as quickly as possible.

“We’ve got to get ourselves back into some sort of stable state by starting to win matches.

“Some of the injured lads like Paul Coutts, Neil Mellor and Craig Morgan aren’t far away.

“I expect us to post results as we start getting our best players back for selection.

“At Exeter I’m expecting to see us fighting for our lives.

“When we played Tranmere the other night, I saw passion in Tranmere’s eyes.

“Did I see enough of that in our team? I felt that in the second half we got out-fought.”

Coutts could be available tomorrow, a thigh strain having kept him out at Tranmere.

While the pair have had their difficulties with each other, Westley is keen to have the midfielder back available.

He said: “Paul woke up on Sunday after the Scunthorpe game feeling a bit of a strain.

“It didn’t really ease off earlier in the week, so we’ll see how he is.

“I’d love to see Paul out there because he’s been looking like a man possessed since he came back from suspension.

“He’s been really focused about his game and a good professional. Paul and myself have had some public spats if you can call them that.

“But both of us are professional and understand what our responsibilities are.

“Mine is to get the very best out of Paul, while his is to be the best player he possible can be.”

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