It has long been mentioned that defender Josh Earl needs a loan move. Now, that may well be materialising ahead of next week’s transfer deadline.

Earl, 20, burst onto the scene under Alex Neil in 2017, stepping in admirably after a major injury to Greg Cunningham. His performances attracted major plaudits and interest as a result.

Harry Redknapp tipped Earl as a future star, branding him ‘different class’ after PNE beat his Birmingham side 3-1 in September 2017. Redknapp even felt that North End would struggle to keep hold of him.

Sure enough, in December 2017, The Sun claimed Everton and Liverpool were keen to sign Earl. Sadly, Earl hasn’t really kicked on since that initial breakthrough, and looked woefully short of confidence last season.

Blackburn Rovers’ Ryan Nyambe and Preston North End’s Josh Earl. (Photo by Rachel Holborn – CameraSport via Getty Images)

Andrew Hughes was brought in last summer and immediately became first choice left back. Earl had to make do with limited playing time, and it showed with some poor displays.

North End did make a move for a left back earlier this summer, with Jake Bidwell a target. Sadly, Swansea beat us to that signing, meaning Earl couldn’t go out on loan.

Now, The Sun’s Alan Nixon has claimed that Earl can in fact go out on loan. League One duo Bolton Wanderers and Tranmere Rovers are thought to be interested in taking Earl for first-team experience.

Earl is from Southport, and a move to Tranmere may make some sense as competition for Liam Ridehalgh. Bolton are in turmoil, and North End may have some concerns about sending the youngster into that kind of situation.

Earl needs a strong and settled season in order to recapture some form, and whilst we’ve helped Bolton in their crisis, the club does have to make the best decision for Earl’s development.