Norwich head coach Daniel Farke hopes teenage “natural born goalscorer” Adam Idah can help fire his injury-hit side into the fourth round of the FA Cup.
Leading scorer Teemu Pukki picked up a hamstring strain during the draw against Crystal Palace on New Year’s Day, and has also been carrying a toe problem, so will not be risked at Preston.
The Finland frontman may also be forced to sit out the next Premier League game at Manchester United.
With Swiss international Josip Drmic working his way back from a hamstring tear and Dennis Srbeny troubled by back issue, Farke is expected to turn to 18-year-old Idah.
The Cork-born forward had just one senior appearance under his belt this season, in the Carabao Cup defeat at Crawley back in August, before coming on for the closing stages against Palace to make a Premier League debut.
Farke, though, has every confidence the youngster can rise to the challenge at Deepdale.
“Adam is a natural born goalscorer and makes great decisions in front of goal, so he has to value that gift,” the German coach said.
“He is a good lad, is physically strong, is working hard every day and tries to improve. He has a bright future.”
Norwich’s failure to hold onto their lead against Palace after conceding a late equaliser leaves them seven points adrift of safety at the bottom of the Premier League table.
Farke accepts the Norfolk club are unlikely to be able to buy their way out of trouble.
“It could be that their is no business at all. We won’t spend money in a stupid way,” said Farke, who saw Manchester City winger Patrick Roberts depart early from a season-long loan move to switch to Middlesbrough.
“Perhaps one day we will be in a position as a club to take more risks, but right now we are not willing to spend unbelievable amounts of money.
“We can’t guarantee that we will be in the Premier League next season, so that makes it more difficult. We won’t panic buy. It has to make sense for the future.”
Norwich have seen other clubs linked with moves for midfielder Todd Cantwell and full-back Max Aarons.
“Rumours of our players leaving is a sign of good work, but it is just rumours,” Farke told a press conference.
“The young lads are quite humble and down to earth in general, so I’m not overly concerned about rumours distracting them. It is part of the business and they have to learn to handle it.”
Farke is not expecting an easy ride against a Preston side managed by former Canaries boss Alex Neil.
“They have a chance to be in the mix of fighting for promotion,” he said.
“It’s not like we are travelling to Anfield, but it is a huge task and we have to be at our best.”