MICHAEL SMITH cannot be recalled from his Northampton Town loan spell.
And that means Paul Cook must continue to look within his own striking resources to replace the injured Eoin Doyle.
The Preston man collected a groin injury during Saturday’s 2-1 victory over Newport County, prompting his substitution on 25 minutes.
Cook’s initial fears are Doyle will now be sidelined for ‘a week or two’.
Conor Chaplin was his replacement against the Exiles and subsequently supplied the cross for Kal Naismith’s goal.
He will now come into the frame to start next weekend’s trip to Hartlepool, competing with Noel Hunt.
Nicke Kabamba can be expected to return to the squad, having missed out on Saturday.
However, Smith will continue to play no part as he remains at the Sixfields Stadium for the rest of the season.
Under Football League terms, a January window-to-window loan does not come with a recall option.
Therefore the striker will stay at Northampton, where he has netted twice in 11 League One appearances.
In comparison, Doyle has scored twice in 12 matches since arriving at Fratton Park on transfer deadline day.
Of the candidates to replace the Irishman, Chaplin has eight goals in 35 matches, with 11 coming as starts.
Hunt has netted once in 23 outings, consisting of only four starts, while Kabamba’s sole appearance was as a substitute against Stevenage.
Meanwhile, Curtis Main last week returned to training following five months out, yet is still some way from first-team football.
– NEIL ALLEN