Preston North End have been dealt a huge blow ahead of facing Blackpool with Greg Cunningham now out for the season.

The international break is finally over and PNE couldn’t have a bigger game for their Championship return.

Bitter rivals Blackpool head to Deepdale on Saturday afternoon for the latest instalment of this famous derby.

Sadly for PNE, there is some bad injury news ahead of the clash.

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Defender Greg Cunningham went down injured in the first half against Middlesbrough in PNE’s last game.

PNE have now confirmed that Cunningham’s injury will keep him out for the rest of the season.

Cunningham has undergone surgery on his hamstring injury and will now miss the final eight games, including the derby.

Eight games may not sound all that bad on the face of things but this has come as a major blow to Cunningham.

The 32-year-old is out of contract this summer and now misses opportunities to prove he is worth a new deal.

PNE already know all about Cunningham from his two spells at the club, but an injury may lead to some concern from the veteran that a new deal won’t be forthcoming.

Ryan Lowe has though indicated to North End’s official website that PNE will ‘do the right thing’ this summer and he will speak to Peter Ridsdale about Cunningham’s future.

Preston North End v West Bromwich Albion - Sky Bet Championship
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“I’m gutted for Greg but we’ll make sure we do right by him,” said Lowe. “We’ll make sure we give him all the tools he needs to get the rehab done and get back fully fit and get back on the grass.”

“It’s just come at a bad time obviously with his contract being out, but we’ll sit down and have a conversation, me and Peter, and we’ll do the right thing by Greg and by us. It’s just disappointing for Greg at the moment to miss the next eight games,” he added.

A natural left-footer in a back three is absolutely vital but both Cunningham and Andrew Hughes have endured injury problems this season.

We can imagine Cunningham getting another year at Deepdale with Jacob Slater potentially emerging as the future in that position.

Hughes came on against Middlesbrough and is surely in line to start against Blackpool barring any more injury setbacks in the coming days.

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