Injury woes are thing of the past says Preston North End left-back Andrew Hughes
Andrew Hughes is hopeful his troubles are behind him, having missed a month through injury.
Hughes missed the whole of January after picking up an ankle injury against Middlesbrough on New Year’s Day.
The left-back played in North End’s Lancashire Cup defeat to Blackburn, getting a run-out for about an hour before a prearranged substitute saw him replaced by Jack Armer.
The Welshman came back into the PNE side from the start against Wigan Athletic, having been rested for the home draw against Swansea City.
Hughes then played three games in a week, with Stoke City and Millwall coming after the Wigan win.
For the 27-year-old it has been about managing his body and not rushing his return to the team. He said: “The comeback has been good, it’s just trying to get back into the swing of things now really.
“I rolled my ankle against Middlesbrough and it kept me out for a few weeks.
“It was all about taking my time – whenever I’ve come back at times I’ve had another little niggle somewhere else so it was about getting more training minutes and going from there.
“You’ve got to make sure you’re right, I made sure I was right this time around and hopefully that’s it now.
“It was a good game to come back into, it was a derby and everyone was revved up and ready to go.
“I enjoyed it. It was a good game.
“I seem to recover after games quite quickly so I wasn’t really worried having to play games back to back in quick succession.”
When Hughes has been unavailable, Joe Rafferty has stepped into his place to fill the gap on the left-hand side of the defence. Rafferty has been one of the surprise packages of the season for PNE, with there sometimes being a debate on who should start at left-back, despite the former Rochdale man being right-footed.
When both are fit though, Preston boss Alex Neil generally gives his left-footed option the nod.
But Hughes thinks the competition in the squad is good and that it is his responsibilty to make sure that he keeps the shirt.
“It’s nice to have the competition – Joe, whenever he has played, has always done well,” said Hughes.
“It’ll only make the team stronger.
“If players get injured at right-back or left-back we know Joe can go in and do a job.
“I’m in the team and it’s up to me to keep my place.
“We both offer different things and it’s probably a good headache for the manager to have.”