Tom Clarke has vowed that Preston North End will be back amongst the promotion candidates after just coming up short at the end of last season.
In his maiden season in PNE colours, Clarke played a major part in ensuring the Lilywhites secured a top six finish, featuring in 42 of Preston's 46 league games this year.
And after falling at the penultimate hurdle in their quest for a return to the Championship, the former Huddersfield man was quick to express his disappointment, but declared that once pre-season begins, the players will do everything in their power to make sure Preston go one better than last season.
On North End’s fifth place finish, the Halifax-born defender said “With the points we accumulated, in previous years we’d have gone up but it just goes to show how difficult it is at this level.
“There were, and still are some good teams in this league but next season we’ll push on again with the squad we’ve got and maybe with one or two recruits, we can go one better than last season and get promoted automatically.
“We’ll have a nice break now, but when we come back, we’ll be ready to kick on again and hopefully we can have a good start to the season.”
Clarke introduced himself to PNE fans by scoring the winner against rivals Blackpool in just his second competitive start for the club, and he admits he’ll look back on that goal with fond memories.
“On a personal level, I’ve come in and played a big role and that’s what I wanted to do,” continued Clarke.
“Scoring the winner against your rivals settles you in a bit quicker I’ll have to admit.
“That goal against Blackpool will be something that will live with me forever, but I was just fortunate I was on the end of it and happy it went in for the fans.”
Despite not securing promotion, the season just gone has proved to be a memorable one for Clarke and the summer will follow suit, with the 26-year-old due to be a married man, with his brother, Leyton Orient defender Nathan Clarke the best man.
“The wedding’s all good to go, but I’ve done nothing towards it; she’s done all the planning!" joked Clarke.
“My brother’s the best man so I don’t know what the speech will be, but it’ll probably include something to do with Wembley!”