Preston boss Ryan Lowe still searching for the right balance on the wings

Ryan Lowe admits he is still working on the wide areas of Preston North End’s team after more disruption to the wing-back slots.

By Dave Seddon
Monday, 24th January 2022, 8:00 am

The Lilywhites lost Tom Barkhuizen to a calf injury during the first-half of the 1-0 defeat at Swansea.

Barkhuizen was playing at right wing-back in the absence of Brad Potts who was missing because of a swollen ankle.

PNE manager Lowe had tried a number of players in the two wing-back slots and hopes for a bit of good news from the treatment room as he picks a side to face West Bromwich Albion on Wednesday night.

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Tom Barkhuizen started at right wing-back against Swansea but came off injured

Lowe told the Lancashire Post: “We had Ali McCann in at right wing-back for my first game, then I played Pottsy who did very well.

“Tom Barkhuizen started there against Swansea because Pottsy was out, we had Joe Rafferty there for a spell against Sheffield United.

“Joe went over to the left to do a job for us on Saturday.

“When Tom went off, we had Matthew Olosunde come on. We have to find a little bit of balance .

“On the left, Josh Earl has been out but he should be back training fully on Tuesday.”

Lowe expects that Potts will train today ahead of being back in contention to face the Baggies.

“Pottsy will be okay, his ankle blew up in training,” said Lowe.

“He wanted to train and travel with us to Swansea but we needed to let it settle down.

“His ankle was swelled up with blood and we’ve had to let that come down.”

Barkhuizen hurt his calf in a tackle towards the end of the first half.

Having just got back in the team after a six-week lay-off with a damaged ligament in his ankle, another spell out is the last thing he needs.

Lowe said: “Losing Tom was a big moment because with all due respect to Matthew Olosunde, I don’t think he was ready to come on and it took him a while to get going.

“I need to have a look at this injury stuff, you have to be fit to play in my team, especially as a wing-back going up and down the pitch.

“We have to make sure as many players are available, fit and ready.

“I told the group from day one that every player would get an opportunity with me and it’s over to them whether they take it or not.

“A lot of them are taking their chance, some are not taking it. That is for me to deal with at the end of the day.”

On the transfer front, PNE are being tipped to land Aston Villa’s 20-year-old striker Cameron Archer on loan this week amid strong interest from a number of clubs.

There could be further departures too as they look to free up space on the wage bill.