Ian Holloway has a triple injury blow to contend with – Craig Cathcart, Keith Southern and Kevin Phillips are all major doubts for the match tomorrow.
Cathcart (foot) and Phillips (gashed ankle) had to limp out of training yesterday, while Keith Southern hasn’t trained for three days because of sickness.
The trio will be assessed today but it seems Holloway will have to do some tinkering ahead of the visit of Birmingham.
The word is that Matt Phillips (right) will definitely come into the starting line-up, while Neal Eardley is on standby to replace Cathcart.
Holloway said: “It is pretty unusual to pick up two knocks in training, as well as having a player off because of illness, so we’ve been a bit unlucky this week.
“I don’t know how serious they are yet. We will find out more in next 24 hours.”
The casualties meant it was a quiet loan deadline day, with Holloway reluctant to let anyone leave in case any of his injured trio turn out to have long-term problems.
Preston wanted Brett Ormerod but Holloway decided against letting the striker out, and reassured the 35-year-old that he remained part of his first-team plans.
The manager wasn’t concerned about bringing in reinforcements either. “I am happy with what we’ve got,” he said.
“The biggest concern is trying to secure who we’ve got for a bit longer. I have two on loan in Jonjo Shelvey and Callum McManaman. They are both getting in and around the team, which is what their parent clubs want.
“With my other two (Matt Phillips and Billy Clarke) coming back, competition is really hotting up. As long as they behave in the way I want if I leave them out, and as long as their parent clubs are happy with how I treat them, then I am more than happy with what we’ve got.
“My hands were tied a bit because I was wary of the injuries we’d picked up. I could have loaned out Chris Basham or Matt Hill but I don’t think I can risk that.
“I’m going to need people to try to get us through this period and I’d be silly to give too many away all at once.”
If Southern doesn’t recover in time, expect Shelvey to drop into midfield tomorrow, behind a front three of LuaLua, Matt Phillips and either Gary Taylor-Fletcher or Callum McManaman.
Barry Ferguson and Kevin Phillips left Birmingham to join Pool in the summer and will be looking forward to the game more than most.