Tom Clarke is the main interview in Saturday’s edition of The One And Only and speaking ahead of the visit of Wolves he examined the start to the season.
Back in the Championship for Clarke and his team-mates, the Halifax-born defender is enjoying being back and admits that it is exactly as he remembered it.
The competitive nature of England’s second tier is nothing new to him and the quality and ruthlessness of sides at both ends of the pitch was only to be expected.
“It is a tough league. The teams that we have played so far have great players in there and it is going to be tough. There will be a lot of ups and downs, but we will just stay together and stay strong.
“We have performed well against teams you would expect to be in and around the promotion race at the end of the season. In those games we have created chances and clear cut chances and it just shows that in this division you have to put them away. You also have to keep the back door shut and that’s something we work hard on as a team.
“We want to get back to those clean sheets that we did so well with last season and carry on how we started the season against Middlesbrough, MK Dons and Rotherham United. Teams take their chances and – as you will have seen already this season – teams score good goals, a lot of goals out of nothing and that’s something we have to be wary of.
“We knew at the start of the season that every team had international players within it and that’s what you want to be testing yourself against. We deserve to be in this league and players deserve to be in this league and we want to test ourselves every single week and we have been doing that so far.
“As a footballer you want to be in a game. Of course it would be nice to go and win four and five-nil every week, but you want to test yourself as a footballer. We have come off the pitch in every game this season knowing we have been in a tough game. We have looked good in games and created clear cut chances, we just need to convert those and keep those clean sheets. We are only a few games into the season and we are working hard off the pitch, on the training pitch to improve every week.
“The big difference in this division is that everyone is more ruthless in both boxes. Defenders defend well and do their jobs and international strikers put the ball in the back of the net and that’s what we need to become accustomed to and be more ruthless ourselves.
“We have worked hard to get into this league and we have put expectancy levels on ourselves. We go into every game wanting to win and thinking we are going to win. No matter who the opposition is we go into games thinking we are confident and that we can get something out of these games and we are working on doing that,” he added.
The No.5’s debut for the Lilywhites came at the start of the 2013/14 season against Saturday’s visitors. That campaign saw today’s visitors finish as Champions of the third tier, whilst North End suffered their ninth lot of Play-Off heart-ache at the end of it and Clarke remembers the experience of pulling on the lilywhite shirt for the first time extremely well.
“I remember my first home game. The crowd was massive and it was a big game,” he recalled.
And looking ahead to this week’s fixture, he admits that the game, like most weeks, is a mouth-watering one: “When you look at the fixture list they are all big games and this one is no different.
“We are looking forward to it and are excited at the prospect of it.”
To read more from the centre half, along with exclusive interviews with David Edwards, Bailey Wright, Chris Humphrey, Jordan Hugill and John Welsh, as well as a tribute to Tommy Thompson and 13 pages of content on our Black County visitors, pick up your copy of the matchday programme from the Club shop on Friday afternoon or from a seller around the ground on game day itself.