Preston North End striker David Nugent impresses Alex Neil in the 1-1 draw with Middlesbrough

David Nugent salutes the Preston fans at the final whistle at Middlesbrough
David Nugent salutes the Preston fans at the final whistle at Middlesbrough

David Nugent caught the eye of Preston North End manager Alex Neil in last night's draw against Middlesbrough at the Riverside Stadium.

Nugent was a 56th minute substitute against Boro, replacing goalscorer Josh Harrop.

Preston keeper Declan Rudd and right-back Darnell Fisher after Middlesbrough's equaliser at the Riverside Stadium

Preston keeper Declan Rudd and right-back Darnell Fisher after Middlesbrough's equaliser at the Riverside Stadium

The Lilywhites had taken the lead through Harrop's 40th minute close-range finish, only to concede an equaliser within a couple of minutes.

Neil considered starting Nugent who has been sharpening his fitness after suffering a calf injury in the second week of the season.

The 34-year-old has come on as a substitute in the last three matches against Manchester City, Bristol City and now Boro - one of his former clubs.

Neil said: "Nuge was in my thoughts to start to be honest and I was considering starting him.

"However, I knew this game was going to be frantic, I had read when Jonathan Woodgate had said about wanting to be up and at us.

"We knew they would be aggressive in the first phase and get after us.

"If Nuge had started I thought he would be able to give us 60 minutes and then have to come off.

"I felt that if we were going to win the game it would be in the second half and I wanted Nuge on the pitch for that.

"In the Bristol City game Nuge came on and did well, in this game he did very well in terms of him being that link - he linked the game well.

"When he came, he certainly helped us get up the pitch and we looked more threatening."

North End will have Darnell Fisher suspended for Saturday's Deepdale clash with Barnsley after he picked up a fifth booking of the season last night.

There is a possibility that Billy Bodin and Andrew Hughes could be back to face the Tykes, although both could be close-run decisions.

Bodin has been suffering from a calf strain and Hughes a hip flexor injury.

Neil said: "Billy will either be okay for Saturday or just miss it.

"Him and Andrew Hughes are probably in the same boat, they will either make it Saturday or they will be back after the international break.

"Darnell is suspended for Saturday, my job is to patch it up."