Preston North End striker Jordan Hugill is very much in Simon Grayson’s plans for the return to the Championship after an impressive pre-season.
The 23-year-old found the net twice in Tuesday’s defeat to Carlisle and was PNE’s best performer at Brunton Park.
Hugill also scored in the friendlies against Bamber Bridge and Southport, his work certainly catching the eye of Lilywhites boss Grayson.
With Joe Garner, Jermaine Beckford and Will Keane available for the front line, Hugill has some stern competition.
But he will be in and around the matchday squad, staking his claim for some action.
The PNE coaching staff see him very much in the Kevin Davies mould, in the sense of holding the ball up and being a physical presence.
The desire to see Hugill’s continued development was a factor in Davies being released in the summer, according to Grayson.
“Up until his injury last year, Jordan was showing glimpses of what he is capable of doing,” Grayson told the Evening Post.
“What the boy has is a fantastic attitude, hunger and he wants to be successful.
“He will do some basics wrong, as younger lads do, but defenders know they have been in a game with him because he works, chases and puts himself about.
“He gets into the box and, when the ball comes over, more often than not Jordan will get on the end of things.
“One of the reasons why we didn’t finish off a deal with Kevin Davies was because we were keen to see Jordan’s development continue.
“We look on Jordan as a younger Kevin Davies who can be a handful at the top end of the pitch.”
Hugill had loan spells with Tranmere and Hartlepool towards the end of last season as he strived to regain match fitness after knee surgery.
He scored the goal which kept Hartlepool in the league and on his return to Deepdale, went straight back into the squad for the play-off games.
As things stand, sending Hugill out on loan again in not on the agenda.
Said Grayson: “If there was a stage of the season where he wasn’t getting enough game-time, then we might look to do something.
“But Jordan is certainly going to be a contender here because of the way he plays and how he has performed so far in pre-season.
“When you look at his career so far, he looks on the opportunity to play at a big club as a second chance as such – he wants to be successful here.”
Hugill will be in the North End squad which heads to Gigg Lane on Saturday to face their final friendly against League One newcomers Bury.
Garner and Beckford are likely to return after being rested at Carlisle.