Longridge footballer Will Hayhurst says his career has taken a painful course since leaving Deepdale.
Hayhurst left PNE to join Notts County in January 2015 in the search for some regular first-team football.
A serious knee injury meant he made only 12 appearances for the Magpies – the club having four managers in his time there.
Two operations later, the 22-year-old is working hard to get his career going again.
Hayhurst is being helped along the road to fitness by North End, with him doing his rehab under the guidance of physio Matt Jackson.
He takes the view that if anyone can get him back on to the football pitch, Jackson is the man.
When Hayhurst twice broke his leg as a PNE apprentice, it was Jackson who steered him back to fitness.
“About 15 months ago, I started getting pain in my knee although I was still playing and training,” Hayhurst said.
“I went for a scan and it was found I had torn my cruciate ligament and had damage to other parts of the knee.
“After that I had surgery but the surgeon said he could only repair the cruciate and the medial meniscus.
“There were other areas still torn which weren’t repaired.
“When I started my rehab, the knee didn’t feel the best and I kept breaking down.
“Notts County kept changing managers and it was all a bit unsettling. My contract finished in the summer and County said I could stay there to keep fit and then try and earn a new contract.
“But I made a decision not to do that and instead went to St George’s Park and see the FA’s medical people.
“I saw one of their surgeons who recommended I needed the lateral meniscus sorting.
“So I had another operation and they found four or five things wrong in the knee.
“It was Paul Gallagher who had a word with Matt Jackson about doing my rehab here.
“Jacko is someone I really trust and will be the one who hopefully sorts me out.”
Hayhurst’s last competitive game ironically came for County against North End in April 2015 – three months after his move from Deepdale.
“I took a chance to go and play first-team football,” said Hayhurst, who hails from Dutton.
“Preston was the club I had supported since I was a little boy so it was difficult to leave.
“Things probably couldn’t have gone much worse, with me getting the injury and all the changes at Notts County.
“Some decisions you make are good ones, some not so.
“That is in the past, my focus now is on getting fit again.
“I’m not putting a timescale on being fit, it could be January or could be later.
“Preston are being great about this, allowing me to come in and work here – I’m very grateful. I’m working alongside Calum Woods who got that bad injury in pre-season.”