Andrew Hughes has got a hat-trick of the kind he didn’t want, with three injuries in a row, but now he hopes the treatment room is a thing of the past, as he told the matchday programme for Saturday’s Emirates FA Cup third round tie with Norwich City.
The left back has been thwarted with his injuries this season and admits he hasn’t had his usual smile but he is back now and hoping he can help PNE maintain their challenge at the top end of the Championship table.
“I have never really been injured before and so it’s been a tough start, but hopefully I can put it behind me now,” said the 27-year-old Welshman.
“I started the season and played against Millwall and Wigan and then my first injury was my hamstring.
“Then, in the first game back after recovering from that against Birmingham in September, I did my hip flexor and was out for around a month.
“Then, the first game back after that, Blackburn Rovers at the end of October, I fractured my foot and was out until the beginning of December.
“I have never had bad injuries before so hopefully that’s it, they are over.
“It’s just been so frustrating as you are in rehab on one injury, you get over that and then you are back in the treatment room with something else.
“You want to get back playing as quickly as possible, but, as the games are thick and fast now, it’s tough getting up to speed with everyone else straight away.
“The quicker I can get to where I was at the beginning of last year, the quicker I will have a smile on my face.”
Andrew said he was playing with a smile before his injuries as he has relished his time at Deepdale.
The 27-year-old began his career in his native Cardiff from aged seven but was released at 15.
While devastated at the time, he admitted it actually did him a favour as he went playing ‘men’s’ football at Newport County.
He helped Newport climb from the Conference South into the EFL, playing at Wembley in the FA Trophy and Conference Play-Off Final.
“I was quite lucky, I had it cushy in my early years as I didn’t have to leave home like a lot of players do.
“I didn’t leave home until I was 23 so I did have had it easy.”
That move at 23 was to Peterborough where he starred from 2016 to 2018 and caught the eye of manager Alex Neil, making the switch to Deepdale in June 2018.
“The club has developed massively while I have been here, you see the calibre of players who are coming in, the quality of them, and we have got a really good squad.
“I think my game has come on quite a lot as well, I judge my game around trying to be consistent and trying to get seven out of ten every week.
“Unfortunately, this season for me has so far been stop-start, I need to try and find my rhythm again which I had last season before I got injured. It is easier to come back into a team who are doing well and everyone is wanting the same thing so I just have to keep working hard.
“I love it here, I love being in the north west. There are a lot of things going on in terms of going out and things to do. My family come here a lot and they love it too.”
There’s loads more from Hughesy, plus interviews and features including chats with former Norwich City and current North Enders Declan Rudd and U18s coach Andy Fensome.
It is a 48-page programme on Saturday and it will be available from Friday afternoon from the club’s Sir Tom Finney Stand ticket office and on matchday both inside and outside the ground, for the reduced price this weekend of just £2.50.