Preston manager Simon Grayson praised the work-rate of Jordan Hugill ahead of tonight’s Capital One Cup tie against the striker’s home-town club Middlesbrough.
Hugill caught the eye as a second-half substitute in PNE’s laboured 1-0 win over Oldham at the weekend.
The 22-year-old certainly did no harm to his chances of featuring in the Riverside Stadium clash at some stage.
Grayson acknowledges that Hugill still has much work to do in terms of his game and fitness, having been a relative latecomer to professional football.
But he has been moving in the right direction since his arrival at Deepdale in July.
“Jordan has done exactly what we thought he would do when we brought him to the club,” Grayson told the Evening Post.
“He is raw but at the same time is enthusiastic, strong and powerful, and runs at defenders.
“Jordan has quite a long way to go in terms of being the finished article but he is a great lad who is willing to learn.
“Whether he plays against a centre-half for 90 minutes, an hour or 30 minutes, they know they have been in a game.
“You saw on Saturday in the Oldham game the way he knocks defenders around and runs the channels.
“His hold-up play is good and he had a couple of half-chances . We will see how we are with him as far as tonight’s game is concerned.
“One thing I will say is that if he starts he would not be able to last 90 minutes because he is not quite at that level of fitness.
“Against Oldham it was a good opportunity to put him on because we needed an outlet to put them under some sort of pressure.
“We weren’t keeping the ball enough in midfield and we needed Jordan getting in behind them.
“I had Kevin Davies on the bench too, who is more of a hold-up player who then likes getting in the box.
“You make substitutions on how the match is going and when you make them you want them to affect the game.
“Jordan did well and I thought Alan Browne was lively when he came on too.”
Grayson will consider making a couple of changes to the side in Teesside tonight.
Bailey Wright is a doubt with a groin injury and might be rested with one eye on Saturday’s league clash with Sheffield United.
Scott Wiseman replaced Wright late in the Oldham game and could get the nod this evening.
North End head to Boro as underdogs, their hosts being halfway in the Championship.
Grayson said: They will be looking to be at the top end of the table and have a manager with fantastic experience.
“It will be a tough ask for us but we go there with confidence and still unbeaten.
“We want to get to the next round if possible and we will go to Middlesbrough to enjoy the experience.
“It is a great arena to play football in and we will see if we can cause an upset.
“We’ll see where we are with a couple of the players. I will contemplate changes but the other side of the coin is that after next week we have a 10-day break.”