Preston North End look set to be in the market for a new winger after receiving the news that Chris Humphrey will miss the rest of the season.
The Jamaica international needs surgery to repair a stress fracture to his shin bone after a programme of rehabilitation and rest failed to cure it.
Humphrey is the second player to be ruled out for the remainder of the campaign, Stevie May’s damaged knee ligaments putting him on the sidelines until the summer.
It was during the October international break that Humphrey was found to have the stress fracture – one which was probably caused by wear and tear.
A specialist recommended two months rest in the hope it would heal naturally but unfortunately it has not done sufficiently.
North End manager Simon Grayson said: “Chris has had some bad news in that he is probably going to miss the rest of the season.
“It was thought that the injury would heal after a period of rest but he had scans the other day which showed the bone has not mended.
“Chris will have some form of operation which will rule the lad out for the rest of the season.
“With Stevie May also out, it is difficult to take but things like this happen in football.
“We will give Chris and Stevie the best treatment and opportunity to be back in time for pre-season training.
“We will get them back better, fitter and stronger, ready to be part of it next season.”
Humphrey’s last appearance came as an early substitute in the 3-1 defeat at Sheffield Wednesday on October 3.
That was his 13th game of the campaign for PNE, with him also having played several times for Jamaica.
Over the last two months, he has been working in the gym and using an anti-gravity treadmill at Preston’s College which allows people to run without putting their full weight through the legs.
With no real attacking cover down the right side of the pitch, Grayson says it is an area which he will look at during the January transfer window.
“We haven’t really got a natural replacement for Chris down that right-wing,” said Grayson.
“On the other side we have got Adam Reach, while Will Keane can play on the right if we play as a three up front.
“But we haven’t got a natural right-sided player if we want to go and play with a 4-4-2, someone with real pace.
“It might be something we look at in January now that we’ve got this bad news.”
Another of PNE’s long-term casualties, Jermaine Beckford, is a ‘few weeks’ away from a return to action, according to Grayson.
The striker had surgery to repair damaged knee cartilage in September.
Said Grayson: “Becks is doing his work with the physios and is making steps.
“But he is still going to be a few weeks away from being back playing.”
Grayson, meanwhile, admits he is glad that his squad have got an extra day to prepare for the weekend visit to Leeds.
The Elland Road trip was moved to Sunday as Leeds are playing against Wolves tonight.
“Looking back to the other night, I thought the majority of the team were a little bit leggy and maybe 10% down on where they were when we beat Reading,” said Grayson.
“It is difficult for a manager because you have to balance being faithful to a team which has won at the weekend, while still thinking about the need to bring some freshness in.
“We went with the same team and in the first half we looked comfortable but in the second we found it difficult.
“Playing Sunday gives us an extra day to rest up.”