Preston North End winger Will Hayhurst is determined to make the most of his chances after the setback of two serious injuries when a trainee.
Hayhurst has scored in North End’s last two games after regaining his place in the team.
But his route into senior football was at times a painful one, having broken both legs while coming through the PNE youth ranks.
The 19-year-old thinks he is stronger for the experience and uses it to drive him on.
Hayhurst told the Evening Post: “I broke my left leg as a first-year scholar, then I came back and broke my right one.
“The break to the left leg was a spiral one and took longer to recover from than the right, which was a clean break.
“Both healed without the need for an operation.
“When I was in the early stages of my second year I was doubting whether I’d get a professional contract.
“But I started believing in myself again, I got my fitness back and towards the end of last season I did well.
“I was given the chance of a professional contract, which I’m really thankful for.
“We had a great youth team and anyone of us could have got a pro contract. I was just fortunate they chose me.
“It was a tough time when I suffered the leg breaks, but I’d always wanted to be a professional footballer and so I never gave up.
“I think I’m stronger for the experience.
“I’ll always be grateful for the youth staff who were there when I came through – Dean Ramsdale, Jamie Hoyland and David Unsworth.
“They were excellent with me. Without them I couldn’t have done it. I’m thankful for them bringing me through.”
Hayhurst has started the last three games, John Dreyer recalling him to the team during his stint as caretaker boss.
He is enjoying his run in the side and gaining confidence from the advice which new PNE boss Simon Grayson is giving him.
“The gaffer has just told me to believe in what I’m doing and express myself,” said Hayhurst.
“He doesn’t want me to worry if I give the ball away, instead to keep going and improving.
“I’m feeling more confident going forward and that has been showing with the goals I’ve scored.
“It was tough going into the side for one game and then coming out again. When you get a run of games to impress, that is a lot better.
“The gaffer has a great record in this league, taking three clubs to promotion. Hopefully he can do the same with us and I’m sure he will.
“As a team we are kicking on and improving, and that’s something we have to maintain in the weeks ahead.”
Hayhurst’s recent goalscoring exploits have seen him lightheartedly nicknamed ‘Longridge Messi’ by some supporters.
Geographically, that’s slightly wide of the mark according to the lad himself.
Said Hayhurst: “I live in Dutton and my dad’s family is from Chipping. A lot of people say I’m from Longridge, but I’m a few miles away.”