PNE’s problem position

Filling in: John Welsh is one of five players to have played at right-back since Keith Keane's injury
Filling in: John Welsh is one of five players to have played at right-back since Keith Keane's injury
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Preston North End are eyeing a dip into the transfer market to help halt their form slump.

It is understood that they are trying to do a deal to bring in a right-back on loan from a Championship club.

The right-back slot has been a problem area since losing Keith Keane to a knee injury in November.

With him only due back in training towards the end of the month following cartilage surgery, PNE want to cover the remainder of his absence with a temporary recruit.

Five players have featured at right-back since Keane was ruled out.Bailey Wright filled in there to start with, then loanee Todd Kane had a couple of games in the right-back berth.

Graham Westley has since turned to midfielders Jack King and John Mousinho to play there, while John Welsh is another to have dropped into the role.

King struggled there in Sunday’s 3-1 defeat to Walsall, with Welsh finishing the game at right-back after King’s substitution.

Westley said: “We have struggled since we lost Keane and Scott Laird. We have to face facts and acknowledge we have lost two very gritty players and have had to battle on.

“We are playing an attacking central midfielder at right-back and as a back four we are looking vulnerable.

“What we need is defensive quality added to the side.”

North End have shipped 10 goals in their last five games, six of those at Deepdale.

Exits from two cup competitions and the Walsall defeat in the space of nine days has caused much unrest among the fans.

Westley got a rough ride at the final whistle on Sunday, and the PNE boss will look for a positive response in this weekend’s visit to Yeovil.

Any joy in the loan market could trigger further departures from the squad as North End look to keep in line with the League One financial fair play rules.

Chris Holroyd, David Amoo and Keammar Daley have all left the club recently to free up space on the wage bill, Amoo scoring on his debut for new club Tranmere on Saturday.

Daley had the remaining six months of his contract cancelled by mutual consent over the weekend after agreeing a settlement with North End.

The next stage of the Jamaica winger’s career is set to be in the United States.

PNE recruited goalkeeper Rhys Taylor, 22, on a non-contract basis ahead of the Walsall game. The former Chelsea player was on the bench on Sunday as cover for Thorsten Stuckmann.

North End moved to secure his services after Steve Simonsen suffered a knee injury against Coventry last week. It was initially feared that he might need surgery after damaging a cartilage.

But Simonsen could be back within a month, although will need a further scan.

Taylor, whose 44 first-team appearances came during loan spells at Crewe and Rotherham, came through the youth ranks at Chelsea. He was released by the Stamford Bridge club last summer, spending a short spell on trial at Southend United in pre-season.