Andrew Hughes' Preston North End debut catches the eye of Alex Neil

Alex Neil felt Andrew Hughes made an '˜excellent' Preston North End debut in the opening day win over Queens Park Rangers.

By The Newsroom
Monday, 6th August 2018, 2:37 pm
Updated Monday, 6th August 2018, 3:38 pm
Andrew Hughes in action on his Preston debut against QPR
Andrew Hughes in action on his Preston debut against QPR

The summer signing from Peterborough got the nod to start at left-back and looked very comfortable in the clash at Deepdale.

It was a foul on Hughes which earned PNE the free-kick from which Alan Browne headed their 50th minute winner.

North End manager Neil said: “Andrew was excellent. He is a good experienced player who makes good decisions and has a great left foot.

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Andrew Hughes in action on his Preston debut against QPR

“Andrew is aggressive in his play, very good in the air and I thought he made a good solid debut for us.

“As the season goes on he will only grow in confidence and get better.”

Hughes got the nod over Josh Earl to start the season at left-back, Earl having been injured for a spell during the pre-season programme.

Whoever plays there has big shoes to fill after the £4m sale of Greg Cunningham to Cardiff City in the summer.

Andrew Hughes warms-up ahead of PNE's clash with QPR

Cunningham was North End’s first-choice left-back in his three years at Deepdale, bar the first-half of last season when he was injured.

Earl got his chance during Cunningham’s absence and had a run of 12 league games early last season.

The teenager then got a knee injury and by the time he returned, Cunningham was back available.

Hughes played in a back four which featured Tom Clarke and Ben Davies in the centre and Darnell Fisher in the right-back role.

Preston manager Alex Neil

Clarke is an early fitness concern for Saturday’s clash with Swansea City at the Liberty Stadium.

The Preston skipper took a bang to the head in a late collision in the QPR game.

Clarke, 30, came straight off and PNE had to play much of stoppage-time with 10 men as they had already used their three substitutions.

Neil said: “Everyone is very conscious these days of head injuries and concussion.

“Whether it was or wasn’t concussion, I’m not quite sure.

“But if they show any of the signs of being disorientated, for the safety of the player you have to take them off the pitch.

“We’ll see how Tom is over the next few days and go from there.

“When Tom went off, Alan Browne went in and did a job for us.

“I needed him to go in there to head the ball and help see the game out.

“He did that and it was great to get the win."