Preston North End left-back Andrew Hughes gets fitness boost ahead of Swansea game

Andrew Hughes has given Preston North End a fitness boost after getting a run-out in yesterday’s Lancashire Senior Cup clash with Blackburn.

Wednesday, 29th January 2020, 6:00 am
Preston left-back Andrew Hughes in action against Leeds at Elland Road on Boxing Day

The Welshman played 66 minutes of the semi-final tie at Springfields, his first game in nearly a month.

It puts Hughes in line to rejoin the first-team squad for the Championship game against Swansea City at Deepdale on Saturday.

Hughes last played in the New Year’s Day defeat to Middlesbrough.

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The 27-year-old twisted his ankle during that game but did manage to complete it.

Joe Rafferty has filled in at left-back in the meantime, a position he has now become accustomed to.

Hughes has just not been able to stay fit this season,with him hit by a series of different injuries. He pulled his hamstring in the second game of the season against Wigan and got back from that in September.

In his comeback game at Birmingham, Hughes took a knock on the hip flexor which kept him for a few weeks.

PNE's Andrew Hughes in his last first-team game against Middlesbrough on New Year's Day

During the derby victory over Blackburn in October he broke a bone in his foot.

Hughes was out for six weeks and only on his return did he get his first run of games this campaign.

He played seven in a row, that sequence brought to an end by him rolling his ankle.

If it was the same injury over and over again, there would obviously be alarm bells ringing.

But it has been four different issues, two of them having been contact injuries.

It was planned for Hughes to play for an hour or so of the cup game yesterday, one which the Lilywhites lost 5-3 on penalties after a 2-2 draw in 90 minutes.

If he suffers no reaction to his workout over the next couple of days, Neil will have to decide whether to bring him straight back in against Swansea.

Rafferty has done very well at left-back, the majority of his 25 appearances this season coming on that side.

But Hughes is naturally left-footed and also offers more of an attacking threat.

Even if PNE boss Alex Neil sticks with Rafferty against Swansea, it will still be a boost to have Hughes back in the squad.

Saturday’s game is the first of seven in February and a well-stocked squad will be desirable for what looks a challenging month.

As well as Hughes, several other first-team squad players played against Blackburn.

Tom Clarke, Jordan Storey, Paul Huntington, Ryan Ledson, Brad Potts and Jayden Stockley were among the starters.

Huntington and Potts scored PNE’s goals in the first half, Potts later netting in the shoot-out too.