Preston North End’s January dream could be over already with Middlesbrough reportedly closing in on signing Cameron Archer.

TEAMtalk claim that Middlesbrough are now in ‘advanced talks’ to sign Aston Villa striker Archer on loan until the end of the season.

It’s stated that Villa are keen for Archer to join Boro because they have been impressed by their new boss Michael Carrick.

Carrick has already claimed seven wins in 10 games as Boro boss and having struggled under Chris Wilder, Boro suddenly find themselves fifth in the Championship table.

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Another striker could help Boro nail down a top six place and Archer appears to be their top target.

What a huge blow this would be for North End, if true; TEAMtalk isn’t one of the leading sources around so have a pinch of salt ready!

PNE have reached the January window with Archer still on the fringes of the Villa side.

That gave Ryan Lowe and co some hope of a new loan deal for Archer having been unable to secure him over the summer.

Yet the fear all along has been that another Championship club – ultimately with a bigger budget – would be able to swoop in and sign Archer.

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That may now be the case with Boro allegedly moving closer to a deal.

Archer spent the second half of last season on loan at PNE and left Deepdale as a fan favourite.

Seven goals in 20 games – including the winner against Blackpool – made Archer a North End hero and fans have been desperate for him to return ever since leaving.

If the report is true and Archer does head to the Riverside Stadium, he will be in line to play against PNE when the two sides meet on March 18th.

PNE surely didn’t put all of their eggs in the Archer basket and may soon need to move on to other targets if Middlesbrough do indeed win the race.

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