PNE striker ready to lose his '˜L' plates
Preston North End manager Simon Grayson has described Jordan Hugill as a '˜willing learner'.
And the Deepdale boss thinks his first league goal in a Preston shirt can be a big part of Hugill’s football education.
The 23-year-old found the net with a brave diving header against Bolton last weekend after getting the nod up front to replace the suspended Joe Garner.
Hugill had previously scored four goals for PNE in cup competitions, while he had netted in the league for former club Port Vale, and for Hartlepool and Tranmere, with whom he had loan spells last season.
Grayson was pleased to see Hugill on target in the 2-1 victory over Bolton and is likely to start him against Queens Park Rangers at Deepdale on Saturday.
Grayson said: “Jordan is a physical presence, which is good to have.
“We are working on his touch and movement to make him a better player, and working on his awareness too. He is a 100% player who will give everything for the team, running and chasing down.
“When you look at his goal last Saturday, the boots were flying around but he put his head in there and got his reward.
“It was a brave header and a very decent move leading up to it.
“Jordan is still raw but he is a willing learner and it is good to be able to work with a player like him.”
Hugill was a latecomer to the full-time game, playing non-league football in Teesside and North Yorkshire before Port Vale took a chance on him in the summer of 2013.
After a season at Vale, which also included a loan spell at Gateshead, North End signed him for a nominal youth compensation fee two years ago.
The Bolton game was Hugill’s fourth Championship start this season, while he was also in the starting XI for the Capital One Cup win at Crewe in August – a game he scored in.
Garner’s two-game suspension for 10 yellow cards has handed Hugill this latest chance.
He had Callum Robinson for company in the first half at Bolton, before a switch of formation saw Robinson and Adam Reach provide support from the wings.
Later in the game, Hugill was replaced by Eoin Doyle, the on-loan striker going on to score the winner.
Said Grayson: “When Joe got his yellow card at Nottingham Forest and we knew he was going to be suspended, we gave Jordan, Callum and Eoin game-time in the second half.
“That did them good and players tend to play with more freedom and confidence if they can have a run.
“These lads had not had too much game-time lately because the team had been doing well.
“So for Jordan and Callum to play well after starting, and for Eoin to come off the bench and score, was a boost for them and for us.”
Meanwhile, tickets have gone on sale for North End’s clash with promotion-chasing Middlesbrough at the Riverside Stadium on April 9.
They cost £32 for adults, £22for seniors (over-65s) and £17 for Under-17s.
PNE have initially been allocated 800 seats but up to 3,000 are available.