Preston North End defender will be back on familiar turf at Peterborough this weekend

Andrew Hughes will be back on his old patch this weekend when Preston North End make the trip to London Road to face Peterborough United.

By Dave Seddon
Friday, 11th February 2022, 8:00 am

The Welsh defender was a Posh player for two seasons ahead of signing for PNE in June 2018.

It is a spell which he looks back on with a lot of fondness but sentiment will play no part in Saturday’s return.

Hughes said: “I really enjoyed my time there, it was a step up in division for me at the time.

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Preston North End defender Andrew Hughes

Peterborough I felt was a key part of my career, I was there for two years.

“It was Grant McCann who I played under in the main there and then Steve Evans towards the end.

“I think it was actually Grant McCann who told me Alex Neil had been in touch from Preston.

“Things went from there but my move all hinged on Greg Cunningham moving on.

Andrew Hughes celebrates with Emil Riis after PNE's late equaliser against Bristol City

“It was when Greg completed his move to Cardiff or was about to, that things started to happen with me and Preston.

“I’m now playing with Greg here, it shows how things can work out.”

Hughes played for Posh at left-back but it will be on the left side of PNE’s back three where he lines-up on Saturday.

The central role is one he’s filled regularly for the past 10 months.

Former North End head coach Frankie McAvoy used a 3-5-2 and it’s the system of choice of Ryan Lowe.

While it might be the same formation on paper, how PNE play it under Lowe is much different.

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Hughes obviously has his defensive duties first and foremost but Lowe wants him getting forward.

Hence we have seen him making overlapping runs down the left to give the attacking play an extra dimension.

Hughes said: “You saw how Sheffield United used to have their outside centre-backs play.

“They used to bomb up the pitch and that is similar to what the gaffer wants here.

“If I can push up the left wing it gives us an extra outlet, it is almost like playing with two wide players.

“I know the gaffer wants me to get forward a bit more and I need to work on that side of my game. It’s a role I enjoy, I feel confident in it.

“Playing on the left side of a three is not something which is new to me.

“I played there for Newport for a few seasons and got a good understanding it.

“When we switched to playing with a back three here, it was just a case of me finding my feet after being at left-back for a long time.”

PNE and Peterborough are in need of points for different reasons.

Posh are in danger of relegation and a swift return to League One, with them two points shy of fourth-bottom Reading.

Derby County are breathing down their neck behind them, increasing the pressure.

North End are eyeing a push up the table from their current 12th-place standing.

They are only four points shy of sixth-placed Nottingham Forest albeit having played a game more.

“We are only four points off the play-offs which is crazy.

“If we’d just nicked an away win at Millwall last week, we’d be two points better off.

“Then there was the Huddersfield draw the other night, if we’d managed to score a winner just look where we would have been.

“We’re not carried away but I think things are moving in the right direction.

“Ryan Lowe has had a big influence here. He came in and told us how he wanted to play.

“Then it was down to us to do it on the pitch, work on things in training and put it into practice.

“The positivity around the place is really good at the minute, everyone is pulling in the same direction and singing from the same hymn sheet.

“The clean sheets we’ve had recently is pleasing, as a defender it is nice to walk off the pitch knowing you have done your job.”