David Nugent’s game time at Preston might have been limited so far but Alex Neil thinks the striker’s vast experience will be key as the season goes on.
The 34-year-old will be in PNE’s squad for today’s clash with his former club Derby County at Pride Park.
He spent two-and-a-half years with the Rams, scoring 17 goals, and when they freed him in the summer Nugent made the switch to Deepdale on a Bosman.
Since his return, Nugent has started three games in the Championship and come off the bench three times.
In the League Cup match against Manchester City, he also got a run as a substitute.
Neil said: “It’s good when you have got someone who is used to winning, used to being in the play-offs, used to getting promoted.
“Just to have that experience for the younger players to lean on is really important.
“There is a formula for getting promoted which is difficult to put your finger on, there’s a certain feeling you need to get – a determination and hunger.
“The more you have felt that, the more you want to recreate it.
“It is no surprise that you get guys who go from club to club and get promoted with them.
“Gary O’Neil who I had at Norwich has had promotions a few times, teams look at him and think ‘We’ll have a bit of that, he knows how to do it’.
“Nuge fits into the same sort of category. While I think he is having an influence now, if it does start to heat up for us, he will have more and more influence.
“That is when the pressure kicks in and it is how you handle the pressure that matters.
“He’s quite vocal in his own way, you hear him speak with the lads during sessions.”
Nugent, Paul Gallagher, Paul Huntington and Tom Clarke are the senior heads in the squad, Neil says striking a balance in age is important.
“While these lads have been brilliant for us, if you had 20 of them in the squad there would be a problem,” said Neil.
“When you’ve got Nuge, Gally, Tom and big Hunts who know what it takes and have been around the block, it is great to have them.”
Nugent and Huntington both played in a midweek bounce game at Burnley to boost their fitness, together with several other first-team squad players.
That was arranged after the Lancashire Senior Cup tie with Barrow scheduled for last week was forfeited by the Cumbrian side.
Said Neil: “Ideally we wouldn’t have had a game this week but we took the game to make sure some of the lads got minutes into their legs to keep at the right level.”