Report: Everton interested in Preston North End teenager Josh Earl

General view outside the stadium prior to the Premier League match between Everton and Tottenham Hotspur at Goodison Park on September 9, 2017 in Liverpool, England.

Everton are reportedly interested in signing Preston defender Josh Earl.

General view of Deepdale before the Sky Bet Championship match between Preston North End and Nottingham Forest on April 1, 2017 in Preston, England.

According to The Sun, Everton are interested in signing Preston North End left back Josh Earl as they eye up potential replacements for Leighton Baines.

The Toffees have endured a dismal start to the season, which ultimately cost Ronald Koeman his job last month, with David Unsworth in as caretaker manager.

Whilst a lack of firepower has been frustrating for Everton this season, their ageing defence has also been a huge problem, with Ashley Williams, Phil Jagielka and Leighton Baines all struggling this term.

General view outside the stadium prior to the Premier League match between Everton and Tottenham Hotspur at Goodison Park on September 9, 2017 in Liverpool, England.

Whilst Michael Keane was brought in to add youth at centre back, Everton failed to bring in a young left back to learn behind Baines and eventually replace the former England international.

Now, The Sun claim that Everton have been watching Preston North End left back Josh Earl, with a view to potentially making a more for the teenager in the near future.

Earl, 19, was born in nearby Southport before joining the Preston ranks back in 2007, and whilst his only prior experience was during a loan spell with non-league Lancaster City last season, Earl was thrust into first-team action this season.

Leighton Baines of Everton reacts during the Premier League match between Everton and Burnley at Goodison Park on October 1, 2017 in Liverpool, England.

With first-choice left back Greg Cunningham out injured, manager Alex Neil put his faith in Earl, and he has been rewarded with some superb performances from the 6ft 5in left back, impressing both defensively and going forward.

Sadly for the Lilywhites, Earl suffered a minor knee ligament injury against Aston Villa in midweek, and Everton may choose to keep tabs on him when he does return ahead of the January transfer window.

Preston are in a strong position too, given that they tied Earl down to a new contract until 2020 back in September, and with no pressure to sell, the Lilywhites could demand a hefty fee for their talented young left back if Everton do come calling in 2018 as they look for Baines' long-term heir.

FIFA World Cup 2018FIFA 2018 World Cup Russia - click here for all of our coverage...

Register for EVERTON team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch