Tom Barkhuizen says he wants to be back in action for Preston North End in time for pre-season following his recent hernia operation.
The 24-year-old put in some superb performances towards the end of the season, winning the SkyBet Championship player of the month and goal of the month awards for March, but he had actually been carry his injury during that rich vein of form.
Barkhuizen explained that his operation had been planned for a while but his scintillating displays allowed him to continue playing through the pain barrier.
“When I was playing, I could take my mind off it,” the forward told PNE PlayerHD. “It was more the days after that I’d be struggling, it was just a case of managing it.
“I managed to train fully with the squad, not miss any days and I think the fact that I was playing and doing okay just took my mind off it. Thankfully I’ve got the surgery done now and a couple of weeks just to get it sorted and I’ll be back training again.
“I think it first started in February during a reserve game and I started a bit of a groin problem but I managed to play through it. Then as I carried on playing it just got worse and worse and Jacko [Matt Jackson] diagnosed it as a hernia.
“We pencilled it in straight away to get it in the first week after the season finished. Thankfully I’ve got it sorted now and hopefully I’ll be fit for next season.”
Having only joined the club in November, Barkhuizen wasn’t at Deepdale for the start of last season, however, he is still targeting an improved opening period of the campaign come August and believes a successful start can push the Lilywhites even further up the table after consecutive 11th place finishes since returning to the Championship.
“Obviously from a team point of view, we would have liked results to go a little bit better. But from my own perspective, you always want to do well for yourself and especially in March and early April I was in really good form.
“It slipped towards the end, but I think that’s just normal; it’s very rare that you see people sustain that level of form for a long time.
“You look at the start this season and if you pick up another five or six points, then would it have given us an even bigger Play-Off push? Definitely – it would have given us another couple of games to keep going and keep pushing.
“If we can start a little bit better next season, hopefully we can have a really good push and better the 11th place finish we had in the last two seasons.”
Watch the full interview with Barkhuizen on PNE PlayerHD by clicking here.