Chris Maxwell says there is nothing but promotion on his mind for next season at Preston North End.
The goalkeeper enjoyed a fantastic breakthrough campaign in the Championship in 2016/17, establishing himself as the Lilywhites’ first choice goalkeeper having signed from League One side Fleetwood Town last summer.
Looking back on his debut season at Deepdale, the 26-year-old was pleased with his achievements but showed great ambition when speaking about starting all over again come July.
“The targets that I set myself were to establish myself as the number one as soon as possible,” Maxwell told PNE.Com. “In fairness, I think it came a lot quicker than I expected, but also I was obviously very pleased with that.
“It’s also good to keep a good run going; I think the previous three years I’d played 40 plus games so it was good to do that again and also to do it in the Championship is an added bonus for myself.
“Moving on, I think next year is a big year for the club, a big year for myself and we really want to make things happen. I’ve got nothing but promotion on my mind, even at this stage of the summer.”
The Welsh shot-stopper is expecting a big season and revealed that manager Simon Grayson has already made some great demands of his players ahead of the pre-season preparations.
“I don’t speak for anybody else but it’s certainly going through my mind that I have to be ready for the first day of pre-season, because ultimately if you’re not ready then you’re playing catch up. Before you know it the first game of the season is here and it is game on all over again.
“The manager has stressed to us that we’re to come back in the best possible shape that we can be so we can put it in in pre-season and go straight out of the blocks come the start of next season. It’s going to be a big summer for the club and also a big pre-season because I know what I want to achieve next season and what the fans want to achieve next season. We’ve all got to stick together and make sure we give ourselves the best possible chance.
“In the group that we’ve got, I think we have got that hard graft mentality. The manager stresses it constantly, even towards the end of the season he stressed that we’ve still got something to play for, which we did. So I think with the last however many games it was in our poor run of results, we’ve got a point to prove. We’ve got a point to prove to ourselves, to the club and to the fans.
“As the manager has issued, it’s not acceptable the way the season ended and we’ve got to make sure we put that right come the start of the season and give ourselves the best possible chance. You look at Huddersfield and what they did at the start of the season, I think Ian Holloway said that they were relegation favourites, but with the way they started, they put themselves right up there.
“That turns the belief and they got into the Play-Offs as a result of it. We’ve got a big summer and pre-season and come that first game of the season we’ve got to be ready and we’ll be doing everything in our power to make sure that we will be.”
Maxwell, who kept ten clean sheets in 38 Championship appearances last season, made his league debut in a 1-0 win home win against Wigan Athletic in September in front of the Sky cameras. In the next home outing, he saved a penalty as PNE beat Aston Villa 2-0.
The PNE No.22 said he did not want to be overconfident about his form, but did admit to having a good feeling after cementing his place in the team.
“I think I’ve made mistakes in the past at previous clubs of being overconfident and I’ve feel I’ve learned that and that will never happen again. It wasn’t almost a case of believing I deserved to play at the level or whatever, but it felt right.
“Football is such a short career and you’re only doing it for so many years, and playing games against Aston Villa in front of a packed house and winning the game is something that I wanted to enjoy going into the game. The penalty save at the end just capped off a fantastic day for the club, the fans and also myself which was one that really sticks out in my mind as being ‘wow, what a place this is to play and what a level this is to play at.’ I think from that moment on we believed we could push on.
“I didn’t tend to think too much about it [facing Wigan in a televised game]. I feel as if I was ready for my chance and that’s all credit to the gaffer and also Alan Kelly as well, preparing me for that. The gaffer had played me previously in the Bournemouth game [in the EFL Cup] which was obviously a massive game against a Premier League opponent and coming away with a positive result from that sorted me right out ready for the Wigan game.
“But to be honest, I didn’t really think anything of it; It was just getting into the team and making sure I kept the shirt for the next game and that’s all I wanted to do.”