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Journalist claims Sunderland now want to sign Preston defender Joe Rafferty

Preston defender Joe Rafferty is now wanted by Sunderland this summer, according to The Sun’s Alan Nixon.

Rafferty featured as a substitute in Saturday’s 1-0 pre-season friendly win over Celtic, coming on as a left-sided wing back.

Sunderland are thought to be keen on taking Rafferty on loan, with Lee Johnson seeking to bolster his squad.

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Rafferty has plenty of League One experience with Rochdale, and this interest leaves North End in an interesting position.

The rumour claims Sunderland want to take Rafferty on loan.

The problem with that is that Rafferty is out of contract next summer, so Preston wouldn’t just loan him out and let him walk for nothing.

If Rafferty is to leave, it would surely be in a cash deal now – and it’s a move Preston may need to consider.

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Rafferty endured ups and downs last season, with his red card against Blackburn Rovers and own goal against Rotherham United particular low points.

Since signing from Rochdale in January 2019, Rafferty has often been solid if unspectacular, but now finds major competition for places.

Matthew Olosunde is in at right wing back, and teenager Josh Seary is emerging in that role too. Sepp van den Berg can play there, Tom Barkhuzien started there against Celtic. Preston have options in that area of the pitch now.

On the left side, Greg Cunningham, Andrew Hughes and Josh Earl can all play there, but with two of them also considered as left-sided centre backs, maybe that’s where Rafferty could see playing time.

Ultimately though, if North End don’t plan to give Rafferty a new deal – and you’d imagine they don’t – then letting him go now would be smart, especially if Sunderland want him.

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