Defender Andrew Hughes targets return to action against Wayne Rooney’s Derby County

Andrew Hughes will be aiming for a return to the Preston North End side ready for the busy block of matches after the international break.

Saturday, 9th October 2021, 8:00 am

The left-sided defender’s lengthy unbroken run in the first team ended recently because of a toe injury.

Hughes had played 20 games in a row since Frankie McAvoy became head coach at Deepdale.

He was hurt in a challenge with Birmingham City striker Troy Deeney a fortnight ago.

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Andrew Hughes missed the QPR defeat with a toe injury

It happened in the first half of the 0-0 draw at St Andrew’s and Hughes needed a pain-killing injection at half-time to get him through the game.

But he then missed the matches against Stoke City and Queens Park Rangers.

McAvoy spoke of Hughes needing stitches in the injury, so too him being on antibiotics and painkillers.

The international break has afforded 29-year-old Hughes time to recover and hopefully he will be in the right shape to face Wayne Rooney’s Derby County in a week’s time.

Derby’s visit kicks off a busy run for North End, which is followed by another home game against Coventry.

Then it is the big one against Blackpool, before Liverpool come to Deepdale in the Carabao Cup.

That is followed by a home game against Luton, before PNE hit the road to face Bournemouth and Nottingham Forest when the calender flips over into November.

Hughes has impressed on the left-hand side of North End’s back three.

McAvoy had selected him for all of his games in charge, even the cup matches.

In last week’s defeat at QPR, the Lilywhites were further hit by an injury in defence, with Patrick Bauer going off at half-time.

Bauer should be back for Derby, a painful deadleg taking him out of the action rather than anything long term.

Slowly, the Preston squad is getting numbers back.

Tom Barkhuizen and Scott Sinclair are available again after illness – both played in the reserves last week.

North End are yet to reveal the extent of injuries which forced Ali McCann and Sean Maguire to hobble out of the QPR match.

But the international break has offered some recovery time and eaten into any absence.

It is hoped that Matthew Olosunde and Ched Evans are not too far away now either.

Olosunde has been limited to just 45 minutes of action in a pre-season friendly since his summer arrival.

An Achilles tendon injury has kept him out, North End having taken a cautious approach with him.

Evans last played in August, having had calf and foot injuries.