Preston boss Alex Neil looks to new attacking approach after Jordan Hugill’s departure

Billy Bodin scored his first Preston goal in the midweek win at Nottingham Forest
Billy Bodin scored his first Preston goal in the midweek win at Nottingham Forest

Alex Neil can see life beyond Jordan Hugill as he prepares his Preston North End side for an alternative attacking approach.

Tomorrow’s clash with Hull City at Deepdale is their first since Hugill joined West Ham on deadline day for a club record £9.5m sale.

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Neil did however leave the frontman out of the squad for Tuesday’s visit to Nottingham Forest as speculation raged over his future.

The Lilywhites came away 3-0 winners, giving PNE boss Neil plenty of encouragement .

At the City Ground, he had Callum Robinson operating as the main striker, supported from wide by Billy Bodin and Tom Barkhuizen.

Neil also had Louis Moult on the bench, deciding not to risk starting him two games running so soon after coming back from a hamstring injury.

Reflecting on Hugill’s sale and how PNE might operate without him, Neil said: “It was a good move all round.

“I though the club did well out of it, West Ham did well and Jordan did well.

“We all know what he has to offer – earlier in the season he was an absolute beast for us.

“I don’t think his game was at that level when we let him go, he was worrying about the move – he had that anxiety.

“In certain ways, and I’m not being disrespectful to him, it hampered us in the fact that when you’ve got a targetman you have a tendency to sometimes go longer than you necessarily need to.

“Without Jordan we have already found a different way to play. We took him off against Burton and finished the game well, then the other night at Forest we did great.

“Jordan is going to be a loss because he is a good player, no doubt about it.

“Having him in the side gave us a targetman who could bully defenders, take the ball in and link play up. Now we have to find some different solutions to go and break the opposition down.

“At the top end of the pitch I like to have flexible players.

“Sean Maguire, Billy Bodin, Tom Barkhuizen and Callum Robinson can play anywhere across the front line.

“We’ve got Louis Moult to play centre-forward and Daryl Horgan can play either side.

“While we haven’t got an option in the ilk of Jordan, we have got others to do a job.

“Connor Simpson is a big lad, he’s only a baby in terms of his age but to be fair to him he has shown up well so far.”

At the other end of the pitch, North End will assess injuries to Greg Cunningham and Ben Davies.

Both defenders have sat out the last two games with minor strains.

Said Neil: “Ben hasn’t been quite right and neither has Greg, so we will assess them before the weekend. We’ll see how they are.”