Preston North End’s build-up to the new season will go up another few notches this weekend when they face Premier League side Southampton.
After three games against non-league opposition and League of Ireland outfit Cork, Ralph Hasenhuttl’s men are the visitors for Deepdale’s only pre-season friendly.
Saturday’s game should be a good yardstick of both fitness levels and where the Lilywhites are up to tactics-wise.
It is a clash which Preston left-back Andrew Hughes is looking forward to.
“This is one which should really see where we are up to,” Hughes told the Lancashire Post.
“We haven’t conceded a goal yet in pre-season and hopefully we can continue to do that.
“Ultimately, promotion to the Premier League is what we want and playing against Southampton will be good for us – we can go out and show what we are about.
“It’s a big game against a good side and we want to keep up our pre-season form.”
Hughes has featured in all four of PNE’s friendlies as he looks for fitness after missing the final two months of last season with a torn hamstring. He was in the batch of subs who came on to turn the game at Chorley in their favour on Tuesday night – Alan Browne scoring within 30 seconds of joining the action, Graham Burke adding a second.
It is a case of so far, so good for Hughes when it comes to his recovery.
The Welshman said: “I’m feeling really good. I was probably fit after the injury just as we broke up for the summer.
“During the break I did rehab work and kept on top of the hamstring.
“Coming back in to pre-season was pretty much the same as any other one I’ve done before.
“The games have gone well, I got an hour at AFC Fylde last week and then was in the group of lads who came on at Chorley in the second half.
“That was a good game at Chorley, I thought they were a good side and competitive.
“They had spells when they passed us off the park but when we got fresh legs on things changed.
“Browney scoring so soon after coming on seemed to puncture them and then Burkey got the second.
“It was nice to see the lads up front linking up well and we created a lot of chances.
“We’re only two weeks from the start of the season so we will be looking to get sharper.”