PNE manager to keep an eye on Irish pair to avoid fatigue

Sean Maguire
Sean Maguire

Preston boss Alex Neil will keep an eye on the workloads of Sean Maguire and Kevin O’Connor during the season to take into consideration the amount of football they played before coming to Deepdale.

The pair’s move to PNE from Cork City took effect last week, with Maguire already having made a big impact in the two pre-season friendlies he has featured in.

What Neil has to bear in mind in that they have been playing since late January.

That is when Cork started their build-up to the League of Ireland season which began on February 24.

With City having also played in two qualifying rounds of the Europa League, it has been a busy few months for the striker and left-back.

Neil told the Post: “I spoke with the lads when I first met them about this.

“Around Christmas time when their season generally used to end, we might need to take stock of that depending on how they are feeling and how many games they have played up to that point.”

The bonus of getting them mid-way through the League or Ireland season is that they have bags of match fitness.

After Maguire scored on his debut in last Tuesday night’s 2-1 defeat to Burnley, Neil remarked that the front man looked ‘mid-season’ in his sharpness.

The North End manager made a similar observation in the wake of the 5-1 victory over Fleetwood.

Maguire played 80 minutes at Highbury and while he did not get on the scoresheet, the front man caught the eye.

Neil said: “He just looks like he is into the full swing of things.

“What you tend to find is that once you have done pre-season, the lads generally in the first couple of games are feeling their way into it still.

“The pleasing thing for us is that we have got Sean right at the perfect time when he is as sharp as you are likely to be as a player because he is mid-season.”

Maguire’s sharpness could well lead to him starting the season’s first game against Sheffield Wednesday at the weekend.

Jordan Hugill has missed the last two games because of a slight groin strain sustained in the Newcastle game.

Neil was hoping to have him back in training today.

Speculation over Hugill’s future continues to do the rounds, with Birmingham and Sunderland linked with him.

But Birmingham’s £2.5m bid made a fortnight ago – one which was rejected – remains the only offer received for the striker this summer.

Elsewhere on the rumour front, midfielder John Welsh has been linked with a loan move to Oldham.

However, the Latics have yet to make contact with PNE to follow-up their interest.