Preston North End striker Sean Maguire is sharpening his fitness from the wing

Sean Maguire takes on Duane Holmes in Preston's goalless draw with Derby
Sean Maguire takes on Duane Holmes in Preston's goalless draw with Derby

Alex Neil is pleased to see Sean Maguire regaining full fitness playing in a wide position in Preston North End’s attack

Maguire got through his first 90 minutes in Friday night’s 0-0 draw with Derby County since returning from a hamstring tear.

Preston striker Sean Maguire at the final whistle against Derby

Preston striker Sean Maguire at the final whistle against Derby

The Irishman has built-up his time on the pitch over the last few weeks, making two substitute appearances to start with.

He played 70 minutes in his first start at QPR a fortnight ago and then got through 80 minutes against Stoke.

Going the full distance on Friday was a big boost for the striker and PNE boss Neil.

In all the games he has in the main operated on the left rather than in the middle.

Neil said: “At the moment Sean is probably not playing in his best position.

“With what we have got and how we’ve been performing, he is the best guy to do that wide role right now.

“Jayden Stockley has led the line relatively well and Sean has shown his flexibility by playing wide.

“He can play anywhere across that front line, Sean carries a threat and is just a quality player.”

Neil has been careful not to expect too much too soon from Maguire as he comes back from his third hamstring injury in little more than a year.

Against Derby, he looked sharp and playing the full 90 minutes was obviously a big milestone for him.

Said Neil: “You have got a lad here who has been out for about nine months of the year-and-a-half he’s been here.

“He is coming back from his third hamstring injury, trying to get up to speed as quickly as possible.

“It is impossible to judge him in the first couple of games as this is a guy who when fully fit, scores goals and is really decisive.”

Neil felt Maguire was one of the stand-out performers in the Derby game.

“I thought the whole team played well,” said Neil.

“The two centre-backs Ben Davies and Jordan Storey were superb.

“Ben Pearson, particularly in the second was excellent, while you could see what a good player Sean is and how much we have missed him.

“Brad Potts and Alan Browne in the middle were great. We played really well and should have won.”