Preston North End striker David Nugent just needs a goal to get off and running
Boss Alex Neil reckons David Nugent is just a goal away from getting his second coming as a Preston player well and truly under way.
The 34-year-old returned to Deepdale in the summer more than 12 years after leaving for Portsmouth, then of the Premier League.
A firm fans’ favourite back then – Nugent notched 37 goals in 105 appearances in his first Deepdale spell – his return was hailed by PNE supporters.
Unfortunately, injury ruled him out for the first six weeks of the season, but he finally pulled on the Lilywhites jersey once more when he came on as a substitute against Manchester City in the League Cup.
He has since gone on to make five appearances in the Championship – the last three from the start.
Despite leading the line well and getting into good goalscoring positions, Nugent – who scored on his only England appearance back in 2007 when he was still a North End player – is still waiting to make the net bulge.
However, Neil believes that it is only a matter of time before the ex-Leicester City, Burnley and Middlesbrough star gets on the scoresheet.
“He’s had some good opportunities to score,” said Neil of Nugent, who is in the squad for today’s huge derby encounter against Blackburn Rovers at Deepdale.
“He had a great chance against Barnsley when it’s come to him and he’s screwed it past the post.
“He had a great chance at Reading with a header which he probably should have done a bit better with.
“I think he is just finding his feet. He spent a lot of time at the end of last season out.
“He’s had injuries through pre-season and I think it’s just took him little bit of time to get going. I think against Barnsley he led the line well and I thought the other night against Leeds his contribution was very good.”
Last weekend’s game against Reading was the first occasion since the opening day of the season against Millwall that North End have failed to score in a league game.
Other than those two fixtures, goals have not been hard to come by and they are currently the joint leading goalscorers in the Championship alongside leaders West Bromwich Albion.
Neil is hopeful his men can add to their tally of 24 this afternoon against Rovers.
“We should have scored against Reading,” Neil said.
“I thought we missed a couple of good chances against Leeds late on.
“We just need to try to maintain the quality that we have shown so far this season.
“The last two games have been different. The Reading game was stop-start and the Leeds game was tactical.
“I think the game against Blackburn will be different.”