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First Team News

John Welsh: "Tonight Was A Big Moment For Me"

25 July 2017

First Team News

John Welsh: "Tonight Was A Big Moment For Me"

25 July 2017

Preston North End's John Welsh declared tonight's game a big moment in his career after kicking a ball in anger for the first time in eight months.

Since tearing a calf away at Brighton in October of last season, Welsh has had to grit his teeth and claw his way back to full fitness having undergone numerous setbacks during that time on the sidelines.

Welsh started the first 45 minutes against Burnley this evening in his trademark midfield role, and having enjoyed his first minutes of football in 2017, Welsh was in high spirits when he spoke to PNE.Com after the game.

"I'm just delighted to put a shirt on again," said the 32-year-old. "I found out yesterday that I was going to be in the squad and to then be told I was playing the first half, I was just really excited.

"Even to just be around the squad and the players - back in the changing rooms, getting stripped - it got me excited and it was a big moment for me.

"You sometimes wonder when you're injured whether this moment will come, especially when the injury breaks down more than a couple of times. You have that in your head but credit to the medical staff - they always gave me the belief that I was going to come back, and in really good condition.

"Setback after setback, you get disheartened but you've got a great team of physios and fitness workers. Not only that but you've got Calum Woods who helped me through it a lot and Tom Clarke so those type of people motivate you everyday.

"They pick you up when you're down and I was really down at times - you put doubt in your head sometimes but having conversations with those lads and all of the other lads, the love I've got off the lads inspires me to get stronger and do better for them."

Not only did Welsh make his return in a Lancashire Derby on home soil, the Scouser also did it with the skipper's armband around his arm, and Welsh admitted his pride in wearing the shirt tonight, evident when it took him just two minutes to deliver a typical John Welsh sliding tackle.

"I enjoy tackling - I seen it coming in and it was nice to do that," added Welsh on ensuring his authority on the game early on.

"I knew that I had to give it everything and that's just the way I play - I think even in training, Jacko and the staff are trying to get the reigns on me but that's just the way I play; I run around, work as hard as I can to get that fitness in and put one or two tackles in.

Welshy added: "Everybody knows the rivalry between the two clubs. it was never going to be a friendly atmosphere especially with some of the tackles.

"To get the armband as well was nice but it was just nice to get a shirt on and get back out there. It was a great game to come back to, one that both clubs wanted to win; it wasn't a case of you have the ball, then we have it - we wanted to win the game and so did they.

"Obviously the result isn't what we wanted but it was a good workout and it was nice to put a shirt on again and get back in amongst the lads and get back out on the pitch."

Much has changed since Welsh represented North End on the pitch with a new manager and several new players coming into the equation, and Welsh is all to aware that the hard work will have to continue if he is to fight for a place in the starting line up come the start of the season.

He continued: It's going to be a challenge to come back into the team; there's a lot of competition as there always has been. When you look at the pre-season games Ben Pearson's played well, Daniel Johnson has, as has Alan Browne.

"Although Gally (Paul Gallagher) hasn't had as many minutes as he'd have liked he's still a great player, so there's lots of competition in there and we're going to have to push each other to get the shirt.

"We all want to play football and I'm sure we will compete for it in the right way because we all want to play and make each other better players.

"That's what I've always said, we're a great bunch of lads and it won't be anything nasty - we all want to play but there's only going to be two or three shirts there so we need to bring the best out of each other and we've done that from the time I've been here."

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