Kevin O’Connor cut a determined figure following his league debut for PNE on Wednesday night.
The Irishman has had to be patient for his chance in the North End team, in part due to Josh Earl’s emergence, but also due to the good form of the squad, and was delighted to get an opportunity to show what he can do for manager Alex Neil.
Speaking to PNE.Com he said: “On a personal note it’s great to get the opportunity and get 45 minutes under my belt but you don’t want to see an injury to anybody.
“Josh has been brilliant all season since he’s come in and unfortunately he went down but you’ve got to be ready to take your chance, I was happy enough with how it went but not the result.
"It’s disappointing obviously to lose 2-0 at home, Villa are a good side; they came and they got two early goals, it was disappointing how we conceded them.
“It’s a great experience but you just have to look at it as another game. You can’t really put too much on who you’re playing against because if you do you’ll just be overwhelmed by it all.
“It was a great experience for me but it’s just another game of football, you go out there and try and do your best for your teammates.”
With the Irishman recently arriving from Cork City, he’s had to adapt to the pace and differences in the Championship; on Wednesday though, he was amongst several of his countrymen, and that was just the PNE backline.
“The tempo is so much quicker than back home, I was happy with how it went. Now it’s just a matter of kicking on and you won’t come up against Aston Villa every week so it’s just a matter of improving performances every time.
“There was a lot of Irish on the pitch for us and even for them they had a few on it, it’s mad but it just shows that the league back home is doing well and produced a lot – Cork in itself has produced a good few players and that’s a good sign.”
Alongside Kevin in the PNE defence was Alan Browne, who started the night playing behind the striker and ended it at centre back. With a defensive injury list almost long enough to forge two defences the left-back admits it’s unlike anything he’s seen in football.
“To be honest I’ve never seen anything like it before, it’s like we are just dropping one or two nearly every week at this stage. It’s next man up and whoever is available has to be able to do a job and hopefully, if the gaffer gives me an opportunity, I’ll be able to do it.
“That’s why you have the squad because at the end of the day the season is 46 games, it’s a long season so he’s going to need everybody; that just proves it now. He obviously didn’t expect as many injuries, nobody did, but these things happen and we’ve got to keep going and keep trying to do the best we can. We’ve still got a quality squad and we’ll have to use it.”
The togetherness of the squad is often praised and now could be a key time for that to prove decisive for North End. With Ipswich on Saturday so soon after the Aston Villa match the squad welcome the short gap so that they can put results right.
“When you lose a game the main thing you want is for a game to come round sooner rather than later and three days is a chance to prove it and turn it around on Saturday.
“The character of the lads is great, every man wants to do well for the person beside him. Not just for yourself, you want to do it for your mate beside you. It’ll be testing but it’ll be a good test for us.”
“It’s a massive game for us, we’ll be going there looking for three points, as usual. We don’t go to places looking for a draw, we always look for a win and that’s what we’ll be doing on Saturday. With the group we have the lads put everything into every game, that’s just the way we are and the way the gaffer wants us to play.”
“You get 6 points and you can jump five or six places nearly, it’s such a tight division that anything can happen. We’re just concentrating on Saturday now and getting three points.”