Still room for Frankie McAvoy to make changes to Preston North End’s 25-man squad

Preston North End have filled their senior squad to capacity but might yet be able to juggle the numbers again.

Monday, 27th September 2021, 8:00 am

Ahead of the goalless draw at Birmingham, PNE added Paul Huntington to the squad registered for Championship games with the EFL.

Huntington’s inclusion took them to the 25-man limit, that still leaving Joe Rafferty, Jamie Thomas, Josh Harrop and Connor Ripley out of the squad, together with Izzy Brown who is injured.

Connor Wickham is in the squad having been registered two weeks ago when he signed a four-month contract.

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PNE striker Sean Maguire challenges Birmingham City’s Maxime Colin at St Andrew’s

The striker badly damaged his hamstring in the opening minutes of the Cheltenham game last week.

He is seeing a specialist this week and if surgery is needed to repair the injury, that could see North End apply to the EFL for permission to remove him from the 25.

That hinges on what the specialist reports back, so the Lilywhites have to play a waiting game.

North End head coach Frankie McAvoy said: “We may need to look for a bit of dispensation.

“We are dealing with that and we’ll wait to see how Connor is and what the specialist says.

“At Birmingham we didn’t want to leave ourselves short at the back with Liam Lindsay being out.

“Liam is not too bad but we wouldn’t have had a centre-back on the bench so we added Hunts to it.

“We needed to cover all bases and now we’ll wait for the recommendation of the specialist who Connor is going to see.”

McAvoy’s thoughts on the Birmingham game were mixed, pleased to have brought a point back from the Midlands but feeling it could have been all three.

Josh Earl, Emil Riis and Sean Maguire all had chances in the first half.

The hosts created chances too but in the main North End’s defence kept on top of Birmingham’s frontline.

“There were a couple of chances which I thought we could have stuck away,” said McAvoy.

“That was disappointing for me because we need to be taking those.

“Birmingham changed four players for the game, they returned to a back three and sometimes when you play the same system you cancel each other out a bit.

“We needed a bit more quality and a bit of luck but it didn’t come.

“I thought we might have had a penalty in the second half when their lad caught Pat Bauer and his boot came off.

“At the time I said to Bobby Madden the fourth official that it was a penalty.

“Watching it back after, it could have been given but unfortunately wasn’t.”