Scott Laird was delighted to make his first competitive appearance for PNE in nine months after playing 20 minutes in the Lilywhites' 0-0 draw with Rotherham on Saturday.
The defender replaced Lee Holmes in the second half at the New York Stadium, his first official run-out since breaking his leg in November last year, and the 25-year-old admits it was nice to be back playing again.
“It was nice, it’s what I’ve been missing,” Laird told PNE.Com.
“Nine months of not playing, it’s just been nice to be back playing, getting out on the pitch in competitive football and feeling that buzz again.
“It’s going to take me a bit of a while still but I need to be playing games and getting as many minutes as I can to get me back to where I should be and where I can be.”
Laird received an excellent reception from the Preston fans, housed in the Morrison Stand throughout the game, and he was quick to praise the support he has received from the North End faithful since his injury.
“They’ve been absolutely brilliant the whole year I’ve been here, first class since day one when I turned up,” he said.
“To come on and get a round of applause like I did there, it was brilliant, such a good feeling and I just want to get back and repay them now for all the support they’ve shown me through my injury.”
North End’s No. 3 was deployed in midfield against the Millers – often linking up with fellow left sided player David Buchanan – and the former Scotland youth international admits a position he enjoys playing in.
“If Buchs goes forward I can fill in behind and vice versa,” he added.
“Also, I like to think I’m an attacking threat, I like to get forward and getting balls into the box and getting into the box myself and scoring goals for us.
“It’s something I like doing and something I can do for Preston to get us to where we want to be and score a few goals but first and foremost I like defending.”
The goalless draw saw Simon Grayson’s side pick up a third successive clean sheet this season and continue their rock solid defensive start to 2013/14 – something Laird sees as an important ingredient to a successful campaign.
“From a team perspective it’s good to get another clean sheet, if we keep keeping clean sheets we’re going to stand a chance of winning each game we play,” he said.
“We just need to stick the ball in the back of the net a bit more often.”
Following their promotion from League Two and their impressive squad strength, Laird believes Rotherham will be a force to be reckoned with this year and predicts many sides will come unstuck at the New York Stadium – just as Sheffield Wednesday did mid-week.
“We don’t know how valuable this point might be,” he added.
“By the end of the season we might look back on this game and think this was a massive point for us.
“But it’s a tough place to come, Sheffield Wednesday have been here and been beaten – I don’t think they’re going to lose many games here.
“They’ve got a good game plan and they seem to execute it well, we did well today, we combated it well and defended it well but I think most teams will come unstuck here.”