Jordan Hugill hopes he has done enough to hold on to his place in the Preston North End side after making his first league start in their colours against Cardiff.
Hugill got the nod to start in the Lilywhites’ attack after some strong performances as a substitute, his inclusion on the team sheet capping a good few days after signing a new contract last Thursday.
While the 23-year-old could not conjure up a goal in this dour stalemate with the Bluebirds at Deepdale, there was plenty of endeavour from him.
Next up for North End is the visit to Charlton Athletic on Tuesday night, Hugill keen to start that one.
Hugill said: “I found out for definite in training on Friday that I would be starting.
“All last week we had been preparing for the game, with the gaffer looking at myself, Stevie May and Will Keane.
“Fortunately I got a start and I thought I did well.
“I’ve been champing at the bit to start – that is what every footballer wants to do.
“While I didn’t score in the game, hopefully I did enough to keep my place.
“I was battling in the air and bullying their centre-backs, which is my game and what I’m about.
“It is in the gaffer’s hands whether I’m involved in the side on Tuesday, hopefully I will be.
“As a team, I thought we worked very hard and there were positives to take.
“Towards the end when Cardiff put some pressure on, the lads in the defence were throwing themselves into blocks.
“Although we did not win the game, I think we are going in the right direction.
“There were chances at both ends, I had a few headers at the back post which went wide, while Cardiff created a few things.”
The 0-0 draw stretched North End’s run without a league win to nine games. Having fallen to the foot of the table on Friday night, the point taken against Cardiff lifted them above Bolton and Rotherham on goal difference.
Said Hugill: “I think it just a little bit of luck which we need to turn draws into wins.
“With other teams, you see them get the bounce of the ball in the box and suddenly it is in the back of the net.
“I don’t think we have had that yet but as soon as it does, the goals and wins will come.
“The performances have been good, the fighting spirit has been there.
“I honestly think that the only way is up for us.
“The Championship is a big step up, the quality is a lot better.
“Teams are more ruthless at this level than we saw in the division below.
“But slowly I think we are adapting to the division and hopefully a few more wins are close.”
Hugill put pen to paper on a two-and-a-half year contract last week.
His current deal had less than nine months to run, so he was delighted to sort out the new terms.
“There was first talk of a new contract around the time of the MK Dons game,” said Hugill.
“I’d had a good pre-season, been in and around the squad, so my agent approached the club about doing something.
“Then it went a bit quiet for a few weeks but after the game against Bournemouth, it opened up again.
“I didn’t have long left on the contract I signed when I joined Preston, so the new one gives me that bit of security which every footballer wants.”