CRAIG Davies was on the verge of linking up with Preston North End last night as Dougie Freedman attempted a trade-off to solve his left-back crisis.
The Wales international was due to sign a season-long loan deal at Deepdale, with funds being diverted to bring in a new defender.
Freedman made no attempt to hide the fine financial margins he is still working under – even after the sale of David Ngog to Swansea City earlier in the week.
And the indications are that if any further signings are to be made today before the transfer window closes, another one of his first-team regulars may have to be sold on.
Freedman stayed tight-lipped on Davies’s destination at his weekly press conference yesterday but hinted he may have to make difficult decisions to boost his wafer-thin defence.
“The idea is to balance the books,” he said. “You never quite generate enough by selling the fringe players – it’s usually your best players or the ones in your team.
“I have got to make a decision – do I sacrifice one or two of our better players to generate money to strengthen the team at the back where it needs it?
“We were so unfortunate losing Marc Tierney to a broken leg but we’re reasonably okay in other areas – up front and wide as well.
“We are very, very short in that left-back department. With things the way they are off the field then we might have to ride our luck a little bit elsewhere in the team.”
With the addition of Lukas Jutkiewicz on loan from Middlesbrough, Freedman seemed to have solved his striker shortage.
Jermaine Beckford is only rated at 50-50 for tomorrow’s game at Ipswich – which means if Davies completes the Preston deal as expected today, it will leave him with only one senior front man again.
Freedman admits that Davies has suffered some bad luck since he was signed from Barnsley for £300,000 last January but that he could not necessarily guarantee him enough match action once all of his strikers were fit.
Promotion-chasing Preston wanted the deal done quickly to enable the 28-year-old to be loaned right the way through the season, rather than risk waiting until the loan window re-opens in a week and only being able to keep him for 93 days.
Although Freedman spoke to the press before any deal was sealed, he confirmed that any decision was not being taken lightly.
“I have got to make a decision for the best of Craig first of all and for the best of the team,” he said. “Right now we need to make sure we get one or two players at the back.
“As Craig Davies's Bolton story goes, he has been so unfortunate. He came in and scored a couple of goals off the bench but he missed pre season. He came back, got injured and kept on picking up injuries. He has never really had a run.
“A Craig Davies type of player needs to play regularly. I can't guarantee anyone they will play regular unless they are on form. But he is playing right now and long may it continue. But if no one comes in with offers for other players I have got to make decisions.”