PNE on the look out for defensive cover

Preston North End could be minded to add to their right-back options in the last week of the transfer window.
Preston North End's Marnick VermijlPreston North End's Marnick Vermijl
Preston North End's Marnick Vermijl

Lilywhites manager Simon Grayson revealed recently that bringing in defensive cover was an option.

And it is understood that right-back is the position which is being looked at. North End are currently without Alex Baptiste who suffered a knee injury earlier in the month.

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He had missed the last three matches because of the injury, having sat-out the win at Burton before that as it came so soon after the New Year’s Eve clash with Sheffield Wednesday.

Playing right-back at the moment is Marnick Vermijl but the only cover for him in a flat back four would be to move Tom Clarke across from the centre-back slot. That was something PNE had to do at Burton, Vermijl having been nursing a groin problem at the time.

Baptiste’s absence is set to stretch into February, hence Grayson assessing his options before next Tuesday night’s deadline.

“We have always said that we continue to look to bring in players who we think can enhance us,” said Grayson. “It doesn’t really matter what position, if someone becomes available who we think can help us along the way, we would be interested.

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“You look at the squad at the moment and we have some talented players not even making the 18 on a match day.

“But we are a bit down on defensive numbers compared to where we were a few weeks ago.”

Numbers are healthier at the other end of the pitch, with strikers Stevie May and Eoin Doyle not making the bench at Aston Villa.

Three clubs in Scotland have enquired about taking May on loan for the rest of the season, Aberdeen one of them with Hearts and Dundee believed to be the others.

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North End are unlikely to let May out unless they have an incoming deal lined-up.

Their interest in free agent Robbie Keane remains strong but a deal is not yet close.

Keane appeared on Sky Sports’ Soccer AM and Goals on Sunday programmes over the weekend in which he kept his cards close to his chest over his next club.

He said: “There has been interest in the UK and in different countires but it’s probably looking likely that I will come back to the UK.

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“I’m excited about that. I will make my decision probably at the end of the week.”

Meanwhile, tickets have gone on sale for North End’s visit to Wigan Athletic on February 18. PNE have been allocated 4,733 seats at the DW Stadium, priced £25 adults, £22 Over-65s, £15 Under-18s, £10 Under-11s and £2 Under-5s.