Safety first in Brown's mind after making his return at lowly Preston

Phil Brown yesterday returned to management with Preston on an 18-month contract, as the Championship strugglers seek to avoid relegation.

The 51-year-old had been out of work since leaving Hull last year and his immediate aim will be to inspire an upturn in fortunes at the division's bottom club.

North End are seven points adrift of safety after a calamitous campaign which saw Darren Ferguson axed after less than a year in charge.

Brown steered Hull to the top flight of English football for the first time in their history in 2008, but was sacked following the club's slump in form towards the end of last season, which culminated in relegation from the Premier League.

Brown is relishing the challenge of reviving the Lancashire outfit's fortunes.

He said: "Preston North End are a big club with great history and tradition and I am really looking forward to the challenge and opportunity.

"I would like to thank the chairman, owner and board of directors for putting their faith in me and, whilst I know the current position is one we do not want to be in, I have every belief in the players' and my own ability to get us out of the situation we are in.

"The supporters of this football club are some of the most knowledgeable in the country and like them I want to see the club progress and I hope to be a part of a successful Preston North End."

Lancashire rivals Burnley are stepping up their search for a new manager after drawing up a shortlist of potential candidates.

The club's board of directors met by conference call on Tuesday night to finalise plans, with chairman Barry Kilby heading the search for the man to replace Brian Laws, who left Turf Moor last week.

"We will be interviewing the people we want to see and hopefully moving things forward to get the next manager," said Kilby.

"Our shortlist is around half a dozen people of different sorts and different reputations."