Alex Neil admits he will have to ‘patch-up’ the Preston back line for Wednesday night’s clash with Aston Villa.
First-choice centre-half pairing Paul Huntington and Ben Davies are ruled out, as is back-up Tommy Spurr.
With Tom Clarke and Greg Cunningham both long-term absentees, options are limited in defence.
Davies had an operation on Saturday morning to remove his appendix and will be out of action for a few weeks.
Out for longer is Spurr who has also been under the knife to repair a damaged ligament in his knee.
He suffered that in a bounce game during the last international break and could be out for up to three months.
Skipper Huntington got his fifth yellow card of the season in Saturday’s 3-2 home defeat to Brentford and is suspended for Villa’s midweek visit which is live on Sky.
Huntington had Calum Woods as his partner in the centre of defence against Brentford – Woods getting the nod ahead of Andy Boyle.
Even Woods didn’t escape being in the wars on Saturday, getting a cut on the bridge of the nose.
It is expected that Boyle will partner Woods against Villa in what would be his first league appearance this season.
PNE boss Neil said: “I think everyone recognises we are down to the bare bones at the moment.
“All the players out are from the same area so we’ve got some patch work to do.
“Hunts is now suspended for Wednesday too.
“These are not excuses, these are facts, and the fact is it doesn’t help us.
“Sometimes when you get a couple of difficult games or poorer results, you want to rely on a bit of experience.
“Young players do really well coming in and having an impact, but the reason we call experienced players that is the fact they put in sustained good performances over a period of time.
“We will dust ourselves down, patch-up the back line for Wednesday and hope the lads who come in will do a good job.”
Huntington and Davies had played the last seven matches together at the back.
So the skipper’s ban on top of the injuries is something North End could have done without.
Said Neil: “The injuries we have got at the back aren’t tweaks or niggles, they are big things.
“People might say we should have signed this or that, but to lose three centre-backs and a left-back is quite unusual.
“The reason I chose Calum over Andy was due to the fact their front line was nimble and quick, we weren’t going to be facing a powerful centre forward in the air.”