Simon Grayson has admitted that Tyias Browning came back into the Preston team at a tough time.
The defender, on loan from Everton, played the last three games of the campaign after recovering from a knee injury.
It was a tough baptism at Newcastle, with North End beaten 4-1 by the Magpies.
He then featured in the 1-1 draw with Rotherham and then at Wolves on the final day of the season.
Browning was substituted early in the second half of the Molineux clash, having looked uneasy against Wolves winger Jordan Graham.
He had started on the right side of a three-man defence, then a switch of system saw him move to right-back.
PNE boss Grayson said: “I thought he was struggling a little bit in the Wolves game.
“He was obviously finding his feet after coming back from the injury.
“It probably couldn’t have come at a worse time, after the long-term injury he had at Everton.
“He has found it a bit more difficult to get up to the speed of Championship football.”
Browning joined North End on loan at the end of January.
Having broken into the Everton team in 2014, he had suffered a knee cartilage injury which sidelined him for nine months.
His move to Deepdale was designed to get him a run of first-team football.
The 22-year-old played five games on the bounce before being injured in training.
PNE’s defence certainly suffered disruption in the last few weeks of the season.
Grayson fielded a different back line in all of the final six games, Preston taking just a single point in that run.
Alex Baptiste got a red card at Leeds, Tom Clarke tore his Achilles tendon in the defeat at Huddersfield, then Greg Cunningham fractured his leg against Norwich.
Browning got the nod ahead of Marnick Vermijl on his return.