They say a change is as good as a rest, so it came as no surprise that Scott Laird left the field bounding with energy and excitement after impressing in a left midfield role versus Leicester.
That rubbed off on the Taunton-born wide man, who had plenty of praise for his team mates for their adaptability. He enthused:
“When Premier League opposition come to your gaff and you put on a positive display and get a positive result, it’s brilliant. I think this pre-season has given us some very good results against some very good opposition.
“You can see the depth in the squad this week. We started with an almost entirely different team to the one that started on Tuesday, and you saw how the lads were able to carry it on today.
“It breeds positivity around the squad and it was great to see other lads coming in and taking their chances to impress the gaffer ahead of next week.
“You’ve got to be at the top of your game all the time, or else you’re not going to keep your place in the team. It’s great for PNE as a whole if only lads who are at the top of their game are playing.
“I’m definitely happy with the standards we’ve set. It has been a very good pre-season – a tough pre-season, but we’ve done some very good fitness work and got some great results, so now we’ve got to carry that on into the season.”
His own contribution has been a valuable asset during the preparation period, and having enjoyed previous forays into a more advanced role, Laird confided that he’d be more than happy to do it again, if asked. He continued:
“I’m happy on the left side of midfield, most definitely. I love playing football, wherever it is, and I like to have a bit of flexibility in my game.
“I can play in various positions, and different managers like different elements of variation. I think this one likes the fact that we’ve got players who can play in different positions because it can help us to change our shape during games. I’m comfortable playing left back, left midfield, centre midfield, centre back… even on the left side of a front three. I like getting forward and helping out.
“The manager changes his formations quite a bit, including during games, so it’s great to have players who can adapt to changing games in different positions. We’ve got a lot of that in this squad, and it’s great to have.”
Having a keen competitor for your place is exactly the sort of positive problem that Laird wants to tackle at Deepdale, but for once, he and David Buchanan lined-up together against Leicester instead of replacing one another – a strategy that suited two players who both like the dual challenge of defence and attack.
“You saw today that when Buchs went past me, I filled in at left back,” Laird explained.
“I can hold that position while he goes forward to left midfield, until we get chance to switch over. It’s good to see and hopefully we can carry that on into the season – whoever is called upon to do that job.”