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Alex Neil’s storm warning over ex-Preston North End striker Jordan Hugill

Alex Neil has likened Jordan Hugill to a hurricane ahead of the former Preston North End striker’s return to Deepdale with Middlesbrough tonight.

Hugill left PNE in January to join West Ham United in a club-record £9.5m sale.

Former PNE striker Jordan Hugill could be back at Deepdale tonight with Middlesbrough

Former PNE striker Jordan Hugill could be back at Deepdale tonight with Middlesbrough

But after making just three substitute appearances for the Hammers, he joined Boro on a season’s loan in August.

The 26-year-old could well start this evening’s League Cup clash having been on the bench at the weekend.

North End manager Neil is looking forward to seeing Hugill again but is wary of the threat he potentially carries.

Neil said: “Jordan is a good player, you don’t move for that amount of money if you’re not.

“He was in double figures of goals when he left and was a key part of how we played.

“But he has moved on now and is at Middlesbrough. Does it give us any type of advantage in that we know what is coming? Not really.

“If a hurricane is coming and it is going to land on your doorstep, it’s not pretty or nice but you have to do something to deal with it.

“Jordan Hugill is a bit like a hurricane, flinging his arms and elbows around.

“The lad did brilliantly for us, we know he is going to be physical and we have to fight against that.”

Neil admitted that Hugill was out of reach of PNE in the summer when it became clear he had little chance of playing at West Ham.

And he was not surprised to see the frontman move on, rather than be on the fringes with the Hammers.

“The loan fee attached to the move and the wages which were attached are not in the same stratosphere of where we are at,” said Neil.

“I wasn’t surprised Jordan moved on from West Ham, he’s the type of lad who wants to play football. When it is made clear to a player that you won’t feature that much, naturally you need to move on to play.”

North End will have their own ‘hurricane’ back tonight in the shape of Ben Pearson.

The fiery midfielder has completed a three-match ban for his red card following the final whistle against Bolton on September 1.

Darnell Fisher is banned for the clash by reason of two yellow cards picked up in the preceding rounds.

A rule change this season sees suspensions for cautions in the League Cup apply to that competition only.

However, red cards in the cup carry into the league, as happened with Ryan Ledson in the second round at Leeds.

Lukas Nmecha’s fitness will be assessed after a knee injury forced the teenage striker to miss the Sheffield United game.

Sean Maguire had his first training session with the squad on Sunday but is not yet ready to return.