Preston North End left back Andrew Hughes spoke to iFollow PNE to reflect upon his first season with the club.
The 2018 summer recruit from Peterborough United had a positive first campaign with the Lilywhites, making 34 appearances for Alex Neil’s side, scoring four goals in the process.
However, his campaign came to an early end when he tore his hamstring in the 1-0 home win over Birmingham City before the international break in March.
Looking back on his first Championship campaign in PR1, the 26-year-old felt it has taken a while to get up to speed, but was ultimately pleased with his introduction to the club and the second tier.
“I’m pleased,” he told PNE’s online video service. “I’ve had a good first season, it is just disappointing the way it has finished [with an injury].
“It was frustrating the last few weeks. The worst thing for me is that I never get injured; in the last two years at Peterborough I played 104 games, so to get injured and be out for the remainder of the season was so frustrating for me.
“There was nothing more that I wanted than to get to the Play-Offs with the boys, to try and get to the promised land.
“I thought I started okay; but it definitely got better the more the season went on. I thought I was playing the best of my football towards the end of the season, when we were on a good run.
“It maybe took a little bit longer than I wanted to, to settle in, but I managed to get there in the end and if I can start next season the way I finished this one, then that would be ideal.”
Having ended the season on the sidelines, the North End No.16 admits he will not have too much time off during the summer, but he explains he had made good process with his hamstring injury and had the season been any longer, he would have been back involved with the squad.
“It doesn’t matter whether I am fit or not, I will always do running in the off season,” he continued. “With the injury, I have to get back right before I come back for pre-season, so I will be in a bit more than the other lads over the summer.
“I have had the figures from my last training session and I was running at 94 per cent; and they reckon you need to run at 90 per cent before you go back into training. So, technically, if we had been training this week, then I would probably have been chewing the physio’s ear off to get back in.
“But with the off season here, there is no point in rushing it, but in pre-season I should be back and ready to train.
“It has been hard work and you look forward to the down time, but at the same time, you are eager to get back in; so it will be nice to put the ball away for a few weeks, but then I’ll be ready to go again.”
Hughes has been one of a significant number of players in the physio room for a good chunk of the season, something that has been acknowledged as having a major effect on the hopes of the team.
The Cardiff-born defender feels that if the squad can stay fit and available in 2019/20, then they can be a real force in the Championship.
“The injuries have been the story of the season for us. Injuries killed us earlier on in the season and then it has again put a downer on and killed us towards the end of the season as well.
“If we can go next season without getting any of those injuries, then who knows where we can end up.
“When we are all available, we are a match for anyone. I did an interview [with iFollow PNE] earlier in the season and I said that no one was going to want to play us and we proved that week in, week out, getting results every week and if we can start off next season the way we were in February and March, then hopefully we can find ourselves up there all year,” added the Welshman.