Preston have suffered a major setback just days before the start of the season with the news that defender Youl Mawene is unlikely to play this season.
Mawene is said to be "absolutely distraught"
The 27-year-old has torn cruciate and medial knee ligaments in an injury picked up during a pre-season friendly against Manchester United at Deepdale.
Preston boss Paul Simpson told the club's website: "Being selfish it is a massive blow to my plans for the team.
"But more importantly it is a huge blow to Youl Mawene."
He added: "He has been superb throughout pre-season and to pick up an injury like this at this stage of the season is awful and he is absolutely distraught about it.
"He is a major part of the defence I wanted to put together."
Mawene's injury leaves Simpson short of experienced central defenders and Simpson is likely to be forced into the transfer market to help ease a defensive crisis.
"You look at what we have got now and we have three of the back four who finished last season missing now.
"Claude Davis and Tye Mears have left and, with Youl picking up this injury, it is something we have to look at."