Hugill missing because of injury says PNE boss

PNE boss Alex Neil
PNE boss Alex Neil
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Alex Neil says Jordan Hugill's absence from the Preston North End team against Burnley was down to injury.

The striker was subject of a £2.5m bid from Birmingham City last week, one which was rejected by PNE.

PNE left-back Josh Earl tackles Johann Berg Gudmundsson

PNE left-back Josh Earl tackles Johann Berg Gudmundsson

Birmingham are reportedly preparing to come back with another offer but that had no bearing on Hugill missing Tuesday night's 2-1 defeat at Deepdale.

He picked up an injury in the second half of last Saturday's friendly against Newcastle and watched the Burnley clash from the Invincibles Pavilion.

North End manager Neil said: "He wasn't fit to play. It doesn't matter if there are any offers in for him anyway.

"The fact is, if I want him to play, he will play the games.

Jordan Hugill

Jordan Hugill

"Jordan has been a complete professional through this whole process.

"If I'm being honest, there is nothing to talk about, there are no offers in right now.

"What was put in was rejected and that is basically where we were.

"Jordan is an important player for this club, he was top goalscorer last year and he has performed well in pre-season so far."

Neil wants to do some incoming business ahead of the opening day game against Sheffield Wednesday on August 5.

He has spent the last couple of weeks assessing the squad and now has a good idea of what he needs.

"I am hopeful we will get some business done before the season starts," said Neil.

"In terms of the squad, we are getting to the point of making decisions about people.

"We are looking at areas we think we can strengthen."

North End's defeat to Burnley was their first reverse of pre-season, Jon Walters and Kevin Long putting the visitors 2-0 ahead before Sean Maguire pulled a goal back on his Preston debut.

Neil said: "I thought it was good work out.

"The first half was a little bit frustrating from us because I think we can perform better than that.

"To be fair we started really well and for the first 10 minutes we were excellent.

"We put them under pressure and put some good crosses in the box.

"But then I thought Burnley's physicality came into play.

"We played it side to side a bit too slowly without breaking the lines which was frustrating.

"I was annoyed with the first goal because I didn't think it was a free-kick, I thought John Welsh came across and got a touch on the ball but the referee gave a foul.

"One of Burnley's bigger strengths are their set-plays and it caused us an issue all night if I'm being honest.

"They had five or six players over 6ft in the box and we are lucky to have two or three that size."

A big positive for Neil was Maguire's performance the striker introduced as a half-time substitute together with Kevin O'Connor who has made the same move from Cork City.

"Looking at Sean, you can tell he is mid-season, he looked sharp and bright, his goal was excellent," said Neil.

"The one thing he did really well which I didn't expect too much was his link-up play.

"With a small striker, generally you expect them to stretch the game by getting down the sides but he made himself a handful, took the ball and linked it.

"Hopefully he can continue in that vein."