Sean Maguire’s absence is a blow to the Republic of Ireland according to boss Martin O’Neill.
Hopes were high that the PNE front man could have an impact in the World Cup play-off with Denmark this week.
But a hamstring injury means Maguire is set for a lengthy spell on the sidelines, Alex Neil estimating the he will be out for three to four months.
The 23-year-old was back in Ireland over the weekend watching former club Cork City win the FAI Cup in Dublin with team mate Kevin O’Connor.
The summer arrivals then picked up their League of Ireland winners’ medals on Monday having helped the Turners Cross club to what proved to be an unassailable lead at the top of the table.
Despite leaving for Deepdale in July, Maguire’s 20 goals saw him finish the season as the Premier Division’s top goalscorer.
He is going under the knife today after seeing his fast start at Deepdale halted by injury.
“It is really disappointing to hear about his injury,” O’Neill said.
“He is getting an operation and will be out for a long time.”
It was confirmed on Monday that there will be no PNE representation in the Ireland squad that is looking to seal their place at Russia 2018.
With Maguire injured, Alan Browne and Daryl Horgan have missed the final cut, O’Neill trimming an original 34-man party down to 27.
The first leg is in Copenhagen on Saturday with the sides then returning to Dublin for the decisive second game at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin on Tuesday, November 14.
PNE’s Irish contingent will be hoping that their countrymen can do the business and give them the chance to force their way into a World Cup squad.
“This is what we’re in the game for,” said assistant manager Roy Keane.
“The first World Cup I watched was 82. I was fortunate to play in one in 1994.
“To qualify will be fantastic for these players.”
With no players in the Republic’s final squad Preston’s international attentions will be on Chris Maxwell and Stephy Mavididi.
Maxwell is part of the Wales squad that takes on France in Paris on Friday before returning home to take on Panama at the Cardiff City Stadium on Tuesday.
Mavididi and England’s Under 20s take on their German counterparts in Zwickau next Tuesday.