Middlesbrough boss Tony Mowbray faces the task of finding a replacement for David Wheater ahead of the game.
Seb Hines is favourite to partner Matthew Bates in central defence following Wheater's departure for Bolton as Mowbray considers his options during the remaining days of the transfer window.
Joe Bennett is expected to shake off a slight groin problem, but injuries continue to disrupt the manager's plans with full-back Justin Hoyte having joined the casualty list with a hamstring injury which could keep him out for another three weeks.
Midfielder Kevin Thomson too is back on the sidelines after scans revealed a hairline fracture in the leg he broke in August last year.
He joins Stephen McManus and Luke Williams (both ankle ligaments) and Mickael Tavares (fractured toe) in the treatment room.
However, there is better news of long-term absentees Willo Flood (knee) and Rhys Williams (pelvis) who could both return to training next month.
Preston boss Phil Brown looks certain to be without on-loan Blackburn midfielder Amine Linganzi.
Linganzi sustained a groin injury on his North End debut in last weekend's 1-1 draw at home to Leicester.
He pulled up sharply just before half-time and is unlikely to play any part at the Riverside Stadium.
Rookie Conor McLaughlin, 19, jarred his knee against the Foxes and had to be substituted early in the second half, giving Brown a nervous wait as he goes in search of his first win as Deepdale manager.
Brown is also hoping to bolster his squad with signings ahead of the trip to Teesside, with loan and permanent signings among his targets.