PNE to delve into transfer market after Woods injury

Marnick VermijlMarnick Vermijl
Marnick Vermijl
Preston North End are actively seeking a replacement for the stricken Calum Woods before the start of the season.

Woods is likely to miss the whole of the 2016/17 campaign after damaging the cruciate and medial ligaments in his right knee early in Tuesday’s friendly at Oldham.

Deepdale sources say that since news of the extent of the Woods’ injury came out, a number of agents and third parties have been in contact to offer potential replacements.

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However, North End want the right type of player and won’t dive in and take just anyone for the sake of it.

They were linked by one sport website to their former defender Conor McLaughlin who is at Fleetwood.

It was claimed PNE would rival Leeds in a bid for the Northern Ireland international who played once at Euro 2016.

But it is understood to be a case of Preston being contacted by a third party in relation to McLaughlin, rather than the other way round.

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Marnick Vermijl is a very realistic option, having spent last season on loan with North End from Sheffield Wednesday.

Any move for the Belgian though, will depend on the Owls dropping their current asking price.

Vermijl played 32 times for the Lilywhites while on loan, 23 of those being starts.

Tendayi Darikwa’s name is also bound to be linked, bearing in mind PNE’s pursuit of him last summer before he chose to join Burnley instead.

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In the short term, Simon Grayson has options within the squad to cover Woods.

North End have three more friendlies to play, starting today against Stoke City at Deepdale (3pm).

They go to Morecambe on Tuesday night, before facing Bolton at the Macron Stadium a week today.

Liam Grimshaw and Tom Clarke can play at right-back in a flat back four, while Chris Humphrey could operate as a wing-back should Grayson opt for a 3-5-2.

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Ideally, any business would be done before the season’s curtain raiser at Reading in a fortnight.

This afternoon’s clash with Stoke represents a step-up in the level of opposition for North End.

It will only be the Potters’ second friendly though, their preparations a week or so behind PNE’s as the Premier League starts later than the Football League.

Preston first-team coach Steve Thompson said: “This is another chance for players to get minutes into their legs.

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“As at Oldham, we will aim to get a few through 90 minutes – ideally before the start of the season, players need two or three games where they play the whole match.

“It will be nice to be back at Deepdale, playing against a Stoke side who have got some very talented players and have been consistent in the Premier League.

“The fitness levels of our players are very good, we did a lot of work when we were in Ireland and you can see the difference.”