David Nugent unable to find his spark second time around with Preston North End

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
The return of David Nugent to Preston North End 12 months ago might have generated a flutter of nostalgic excitement but in football terms it has been far from a success.

Nugent managed only the one goal in the campaign just finished, that against Fulham at Deepdale in December.

His age now matches his squad number and it could well be that the striker moves on ahead of the 2020/21 season which is due to start in September.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

If he does go, it will be his first spell with North End which is remembered with so much more fondness than this one.

Preston North End striker David Nugent scored one goal in the 2019/20 seasonPreston North End striker David Nugent scored one goal in the 2019/20 season
Preston North End striker David Nugent scored one goal in the 2019/20 season

Nugent was always starting on the back foot in terms of his fitness, arriving having had knee cartilage surgery last summer.

He had suffered that injury in his last game for Derby, the play-off semi-final first leg against Leeds in May 2019.

His second Preston debut came in the League Cup tie with Manchester City on September 24, a half-hour run-out to test his sharpness.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Over the next 10 months he made 11 Championship starts and came off the bench a further 13 times.

Nugent started three games in a row in October, the 5-1 win over Barnsley, a 1-0 defeat at Reading and the 1-1 draw with Leeds at Deepdale.

Interestingly, he started both games with Leeds, so too against Fulham.

Alex Neil wanted North End really pressing against both sides and saw Nugent as the ideal striker to hold the ball up and spin in behind.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

After lockdown, he came on as a substitute at Luton and then against Cardiff.

When Derby visited for PNE’s 5,000th league game on July 1, Nugent started but had a tough time against his former employers, not least because he struggled to keep his footing early on.

For the next five games he was on the bench but not used, with him not making the matchday 20 at Bristol City on the final evening of the season.

Nugent has another year to run on his North End contract but it is difficult seeing how he could force his way into the side now.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

It can be difficult for a player to return to a club where he did so well previously and reproduce that form – time ticks on in between.

When Nugent arrived at PNE from Bury for £99,000 in January 2005 he was still a teenager and over the next 30 months developed into a player who scored for England and North End were able to get £6m for.