Frankie McAvoy will use his head – not his heart – over final Preston North End squad vacancy

Preston North End head coach Frankie McAvoy says he will take emotion out of the equation when it comes to his decision over the final place in the 25-man squad.

Thursday, 23rd September 2021, 8:00 am

The Lilywhites have a slot free in the senior squad they have registered with the EFL for Championship games.

It was never the intention to rush to fill the vacancy but injuries could force them to do so sooner than expected.

Connor Wickham and Liam Lindsay both limped out of Tuesday night’s 4-1 win over Cheltenham Town in the Carabao Cup.

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Preston North End striker Connor Wickham is treated by physio Matt Jackson

A lot could hinge on the extent of the knee injury which Lindsay suffered.

If he is out for any length of time, it would seem prudent to add a defender to the squad.

Paul Huntington is the natural fit, the long-serving centre-half having been back in training for the last few weeks after missing much of pre-season.

Huntington, Joe Rafferty, Jamie Thomas, Josh Harrop, Connor Ripley and Izzy Brown were the players who did not make the initial cut.

McAvoy said: “I have got to make sure the balance of the squad is right, I have got to be honest and do the right thing for Preston North End.

“We’ve got two guys in the squad who we’ve had to send for scans.

“So I have to make sure that when I fill that further slot it is done for Preston’s benefit.

“You have to put emotion out of the window when you are dealing with that.”

PNE had initially registered 23 players with the EFL and left two slots open.

Wickham was added to the roster at the start of last week after signing a four-month contract.

He injured a hamstring in the opening exchanges of Tuesday night’s game which was his full Preston debut.

At the other end of the pitch, the Cheltenham clash was Lindsay’s first game since Huddersfield away.

Having recovered from Covid, the Scot had been on the bench for the last three league matches.

Lindsay’s injury means cover is thin for defensive trio Jordan Storey, Patrick Bauer and Andrew Hughes.

Sepp van den Berg does see his future as a centre-half but he has been impressive playing at wing-back.

For the Cheltenham game, McAvoy brought Rafferty into the side and he was delighted with his contribution.

He is pushing to be the 25th player registered, although there are other options down that right-hand side.

Said McAvoy: “I thought Joe was excellent in the cup.

“Joe does fantastically well in training and the matches he plays. I know that he is hurting not being in the squad, so I’m absolutely delighted for him to have played well and scored against Cheltenham.”