Uncertainty over Connor Wickham's recovery leaves question marks over his place in Preston's 25-man squad
Preston North End are open minded about filling the spare place in their squad if Connor Wickham is taken out of it following surgery to repair a damaged hamstring.
Wickham, 28, is starting the long road to recovery after going under the knife this week.
There is a big question mark against him being fit before his PNE contracts ends in mid January.
So it could well be that representation is made to the EFL for Wickham to be removed from the 25-man senior squad.
North End head coach Frankie McAvoy told the Lancashire Post: “If his recovery is going to take longer than the time Connor is here, I will probably look to add to the squad.
“It’s something we’ve been speaking about.
“We have Joe Rafferty, Jamie Thomas and Josh Harrop here who aren’t in the squad at the moment.
“We might look at guys who are still out of contract and without a club.
“We’ll see what the best fit is at the moment, we want to make sure we get it right.”
Championship clubs can name a maximum of 25 players in their squad who are over 21 or who are loan.
Early in September after the closure of the transfer window, North End registered 23 players.
They left two spaces free to give them some flexibility.
Wickham was added to the squad in September when he signed a four-month contract following a trial spell.
Then ahead of last week’s game at Birmingham City, Paul Huntington got added.
So for the time being PNE are full up in terms of senior players – they can have an unlimited number of players below the age of 21.
Rafferty played in the Carabao Cup win against Cheltenham, the squad limit rule only applying to league matches.
The full-back admitted to a sense of frustration that he was not able to play in the Championship.
A chance to get some match time under his belt, so too for Thomas and Harrop – if fit – will come in the reserves on Tuesday afternoon (2pm).
PNE face Carlisle United at Euxton in a Central League Cup game.
It will be an opportunity for any first-team players to top up their fitness, as well as some of the youngsters to get a run out.
Tom Barkhuizen and Scott Sinclair could be among those to play having returned to the squad lately after being ill.
McAvoy said this week that the reserve game might come a bit too soon for Matthew Olosunde in his comeback from an Achilles injury.
Ched Evans is expected to resume training next week after a calf strain.
Support us and become a subscriber today. Enjoy unlimited access to local news, the latest football stories and new puzzles every day. With a digital subscription, you can see fewer ads, enjoy faster load times, and get access to exclusive newsletters and content. Click here to subscribe.