Sunderland are keen on making a loan move for Preston North End right-back Joe Rafferty, but the Lilywhites are reluctant to let him depart Deepdale, according to the Lancashire Post.
The Black Cats are in need of additions in both full-back positions, and Rafferty has played on both sides of the pitch for the Lilywhites in the Championship so he would seemingly be a good fit for Lee Johnson’s side.
Rafferty made 22 appearances for North End last season but played less frequently in the second half of the campaign before an injury to his back curtailed it early.
The 27-year-old has been featuring in pre-season for the Lilywhites despite a new right-wing-back arriving in the form of Matthew Olosunde, and like the last few seasons Rafferty has been used on both sides of the pitch.
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And because of that versatility it is thought that Frankie McAvoy is reluctant to let Rafferty leave the club – and if he does PNE would be looking for a transfer fee instead of a temporary move with just one year left on his contract, per the Lancashire Post.
It wouldn’t make much sense for North End to allow Rafferty to leave on loan with less than one year remaining on his deal, so the club’s stance of a permanent transfer if anything was to happen is sensible.
Rafferty will probably never be a regular starter for a Championship club now at the age of 27, and in the eyes of many PNE fans League One is probably his level.
He was pretty good in the third tier for Rochdale, which is what convinced Alex Neil to sign him in January 2019, and he may need a move back to that very league to reignite his career.
Rafferty could of course remain and fight for his place, but even though he does provide good cover he’s unlikely to get too many chances next season.