Tom Barkhuizen wants PNE to finish the season as strongly as possible, with a Play-Off spot still in sight.
After starting 43 of North End’s 44 games so far this season, it’s been a long Championship campaign for PNE's No.29; but still being in the hunt for the top six is giving the Lilywhites the extra lift to keep going until the final game – starting with the crucial clash at Bramall Lane on Saturday.
Speaking to iFollowPNE, Barkhuizen said: “It probably gives us a bit of extra energy going into these last two games. It’s been a long season, it’s been a tough season and leg-wise for a lot of the lads, it’s been completely different to the way we’ve played over the last few years.
“The fact that we’re in and around it with two games to go does give us that extra boost to go on and put in 100 per cent.
“I spoke to the gaffer a few weeks ago and this is the most football I’ve played in any season and the fact that I’ve made the step up to this level and had my first full season has been tough; it’s probably played a part in my form.
“It’s been a bit on and off because physically this league is probably the most demanding.
“I’m really proud. I think I’ve started 43 out of the 44 and the only reason I didn’t start that one was because I was ill, so I’m really proud of that and if I can play a big part in the last two games and get us into the Play-Offs it would be a really good achievement.”
With both PNE and Sheffield United still pushing for Play-Off places, Saturday’s game has massive importance for both teams. Similarly, both sides like to play on the front foot and Barkhuizen doesn’t see it being the type of game nullified by the occasion.
“Definitely not. The way we play and the way they play, I think they’re a really good team, they’ve been in and around it all season, neither of us have anything to lose. There’s no reason why we can’t go there, put in a good performance and get three points.
“If anything, it’s the same for both teams, they’ve still got a slight chance. I don’t know if they’ve got the same mindset as we have of we can definitely still get in.
“Six points is a lot of points to play for at this stage of the season, people get nervous and can’t cope with the pressure and we’ve got to find a way to deal with that.
“Over the course of the season, we haven’t dealt with the pressure that we could get in the top six but now it is all or nothing and we’ll go for it, give our best and if it’s enough, it’s enough; if it’s not we’ll go again next year. We’ll keep trying.”
As always, the fans have an enormous part to play and Barkhuizen was full of praise for the Lilywhites faithful.
“The home support at the weekend was probably the best it’s been all season, especially with how things didn’t really go our way on Saturday. It was tough, it was tough to play our normal game with the weather and things like that.
“But the away fans; even at Ipswich away when we were getting beat 3-0 they weren’t really given us much abuse, it’s a hardcore set of fans. It probably helps us away from home quite a lot that they’re always giving us that extra little bit.
“At the end of the day, we’ve had a really good season so far; not many people would have expected us to be where we are.
“We’ve gone about our way the way that the gaffer wants and he’s changed our mentality massively.”
You can watch the full interview with Tom Barkhuizen by clicking on the video above.