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'He was told if he didn’t play enough games he would struggle to get into the national side'

Daryl Horgan has swapped Preston North End for Hibernian.

Daryl Horgan won his fourth Ireland cap in the 2-1 win over USA in June.
Daryl Horgan won his fourth Ireland cap in the 2-1 win over USA in June.
Image: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

PRESTON NORTH END manager Alex Neil has had his say on the departure of Daryl Horgan, who left the English Championship club over the weekend.

Horgan signed a three-year deal with Hibernian after the Scottish Premiership outfit paid Preston an undisclosed fee for the Ireland international winger.

The 26-year-old made a promising start at Preston following his move from Dundalk in January 2017. He featured regularly under Simon Grayson but his fortunes changed when Grayson departed last summer.

Alex Neil subsequently took the reins at Deepdale and Horgan was restricted to just two starts in the Championship last season, as Preston narrowly missed out on the play-offs.

Speaking to reporters this morning at a press briefing ahead of his side’s Carabao Cup game against Morecambe, Neil was glowing in his praise of Horgan’s character while explaining that the Galway native’s international ambitions were a key consideration.

Since making his senior Ireland debut against Iceland in March 2017, Horgan has been capped four times by Martin O’Neill. However, another season on the bench at Preston wouldn’t have been conducive to his prospects of increasing that tally.

“He was told [by Martin O'Neill] if he didn’t play enough games he would struggle to get into the national side,” Alex Neil said. “That is very important for him. I couldn’t promise him the game-time he needed. He’s a good lad and works hard. It was only fair to let him progress his career.”

Neil backed Horgan to make a success of his spell at Hibernian, with the Preston boss also suggesting that his style of play isn’t suited to the attributes of the 2016 PFAI Player of the Year.

He said: “Daryl is a top lad. It’s not as easy to be nice when you’re not playing every week, but that’s his character. I don’t think he was able to play to his best because of the way we play, and sometimes different styles suit different players. He will do well up there.”

Horgan came up against a former Dundalk team-mate when he made his Hibs debut yesterday. He was introduced in the 63rd minute of a 1-1 draw with St Johnstone, for whom David McMillan came off the bench in injury time.

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Paul Dollery

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