After scoring six goals in a Play-Off campaign, including a hat-trick at Wembley to confirm the Lilywhites’ promotion, Jermaine Beckford agreed a two-year contract at Deepdale.
It was a huge day for the Club, the fans and the man himself, however, eight months later he is yet to start a game in the second tier wearing the white shirt of North End due to an injury suffered in pre-season at Motherwell.
However, the Perivale-born striker is starting to take the first steps back towards first team football. Speaking to The One And Only this week the No.10 admitted there had been challenges in the last eight months, but that the long road back finally had an ending in sight.
“It hasn’t been the easiest ride, but knowing the types of players and the staff and the management that we have around the place and the characters that we have, it has made it easier for me to deal with the situation that I’ve been placed in,” he told the matchday programme. “Mentally it has been challenging, but, as I said after my illness last year, I am a positive person. I look at the bright side of things – it could be a hell of a lot worse, however, it has been a long taxing journey that I have been on and I am glad that I am coming towards the end of it.
“It was frustrating because at the back end of last season, not only for me on a personal level, but the Club as a whole, we had a great year and I signed a contract because I wanted to improve on the previous year and show what else I had to offer, but unfortunately I was dealt the cards that as I.
“It has added to the hunger, to the determination, to the fire in my belly that keeps me going and the faith is something that I want to repay in the Club, the staff, the players and the fans mostly.
“I want to show what I can do and I am itching to get back out there; I can’t wait.”
He signed off the 2014/15 season with 16 goals in 20 games to fire North End to promotion, so is he worried that when he returns the expectations will be that he picks up where he left off at Wembley?
“I have to come terms with the expectations myself,” continued the 32-year-old. “I am going to be slightly rusty, but I am going to give 100 per cent of my effort, because I want to get to that point where I am playing 90 minutes again and the expectation levels on myself, from myself have grown to a point where I feel like I can score a goal a game and I feel like I can contribute, not just goals but assists or hold up play or making channel runs.
“I want to be able to be relied upon and I know that is something that is going to take a bit of time, just because of the fact that I haven’t played for eight months.
“The good thing is, the team have done amazingly well, they have exceeded all expectations and we are six points off the Play-Off places, so I don’t think the expectation levels are going to be too high.
“There are always going to be expectation levels to aim towards and that is part and parcel of the job, but regardless of what happens between now and the end of the season, you can’t help but take your hat off to the amazing job that the guys and everyone around the place has done.
“I am a big kid at heart and I want to play every single minute of every single football game. I want to train every single day, but I know that is not possible. I know I just have to set my sights on each day’s training session, what I can achieve in that, what I can’t do and then take it day by day and see where that takes me.
“Ultimately I want to play as much as I can. Even if I only get five or ten minutes of the last game of the season, I know that it is going to put me in a very good place mentally for next season.
“I don’t want to look too far ahead, but if that’s where I am, then that is where I am and I have to make sure I am ready to be the best I can be at.”
And as the day approaches when he will get to run out again with his team mates in a league game, what is he expecting it to feel like?
“There will a lot of different emotions when I get to pull that shirt on again for the first time since the injury.
“First and foremost there will be relief that I have been able to get back to place where I can pull the shirt on again.
“There will be excitement. I will be ecstatic. I will be cautious; nervous a little bit, but ultimately I am there to have fun and entertain, so that’s what I plan to do,” we look forward to it Jermaine.
There is a lot more from Jermaine in Saturday’s edition of The One And Only and there are also interviews with Anders Lindegaard, Joe Garner, Callum Robinson, Paul Huntington and Ben Pearson. We also have 13 pages of content about the visitors and much, much more crammed into the 84 pages of perfect bound content – on sale for just £3 from Friday afternoon from the Club’s retail store or inside and outside the ground on matchday.