Preston North End want Josh Earl to stay out on loan

Preston left-back Josh Earl is on loan at Bolton until January
Preston left-back Josh Earl is on loan at Bolton until January

Preston North End want to see Josh Earl continue his football education with another loan in the second half of the season.

The 21-year-old defender is currently on loan with Bolton Wanderers, having joined them on the eve of the start of the season.

That loan runs until January 5 and PNE would be happy for Bolton to extend that arrangement.

If not, they want to see Earl go on loan elsewhere to get a regular run of matches under his belt.

It has certainly not been plain sailing for Earl at Bolton, with him hit by a bad dose of luck.

On his debut at Wycombe on the opening day he suffered a serious ankle ligament injury in a tackle and he had to undergo surgery.

Earl returned to action in late October and in total has four starts and a substitute appearance under his belt.

In last Saturday’s 7-1 defeat at Accrington Stanley, he was sent off after 15 minutes for pulling back an opponent in the box – Bolton failed with an appeal and Earl is now banned for one match.

The penalty which resulted saw Stanley equalise and they romped to victory from there.

Earl has been playing as a left-sided centre-half of late, his 6ft 4ins frame lending itself to playing in the middle.

His first-team appearances for PNE all came at left-back, while he was a winger by trade coming through the youth ranks at the club.

It was early in the 2017/18 season that Earl broke into the first-team picture at Deepdale, making his debut in a 1-0 win over Reading in August 2017.

Greg Cunningham had suffered a detached hamstring tendon at the time and Earl was the choice of Neil to replace the Irishman ahead of more senior players.

Earl had a 12-game run in the team before picking up a knee injury. On his return, he made a further eight appearances that campaign.

Last season, Earl played 16 games, 14 of them starts and two from the bench.

North End took the decision to loan him out in the summer in order to gain more first-team experience.

With Andrew Hughes having been the first-choice left-back last season and expected to be this time, it was felt Earl sitting on the bench more often than not wasn’t going to do him much good.

As it was, Hughes was injured in the second game of the season and Joe Rafferty has done a sterling job in the left-back role.