Josh Earl is set to leave Preston North End on a temporary basis following the return of Greg Cunningham to Deepdale, according to Football Insider.
The 22-year-old is joining League One side Burton Albion on a loan deal for the rest of the season, and will fill a void that Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink has been looking to strengthen, with teenager Owen Gallacher playing there in the last few games.
And with Cunningham’s arrival at Deepdale it meant that Earl was shunted down the pecking order once again to be third-choice to the Irishman and Andrew Hughes.
Earl made his breakthrough at North End following Alex Neil’s arrival in the summer of 2017, with the Scot throwing Earl straight in at the deep end as an 18-year-old.
And it was after just his fifth career league appearance where he excelled in an away clash against Birmingham City – prompting Harry Redknapp to single him out as ‘different class‘, and who North End would ‘do very well to hang on to in the next couple of years‘.
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Despite transfer links to Everton not long after his debut, no big move materialised and his form also dipped – he also spent time on loan at both Bolton Wanderers and Ipswich Town last season.
Having made just five Championship appearances for the Lilywhites in the current campaign, Earl is set to get more regular football at Albion, who are currently rooted to the base of the League One table.
This move makes a lot of sense for all parties.
It looks very likely that Earl will get a lot of game-time at the Pirelli Stadium and it may serve his long-term development best, rather than sitting on the substitutes bench at Deepdale.
Of course it may end up being a deal that Neil regrets in a few months – the returnee Cunningham hasn’t got the best fitness record in years gone by so he will be hoping that the Ireland international remains uninjured for the rest of the campaign and that Earl also gets vital minutes in the league below.