Preston North End forward Tom Barkhuizen has been in excellent form in recent weeks, with five goals in his last ten games and he is happy to play a big part in the team.
With members of the forward line forming a line at the medical room door over recent weeks the Lilywhites’ No.29 has stepped up the plate and done his bit and the side have profited, with only one defeat in the last 12 games.
Speaking to iFollow PNE as the team returned to Springfields this week to prepare for their final game before Christmas and their last on the road in 2018, the former pacy attacker admitted it has been a hard graft to get through the games, but was happy to shoulder some of the burden of responsibility in the absence of some of his senior strike-partners.
“It is tough, because you want to play every game - you want to play every minute of every game,” said the 25-year-old. “Last year I played a lot of games and this year I have played in most games and when you are getting a bit tired and look around and realised you can’t come off, you need to keep fighting.
“In a way it helps, because you know you can’t go off and that gives you a little bit of energy to keep going.
“I am happy with how I am playing at the moment. Considering where I was at the start of the season when I wasn’t playing so well and I was getting a bit of stick, it is amazing how things can turn around.
“I am now on six goals and only two off last year’s total of eight, so hopefully I can get to double figures and keep going.
“Me and Browney [Alan Browne] were talking about picking up Robbo’s [Callum Robinson’s] mantle and keeping going. He has been a massive player for the club in the last three years and this season he has taken his game to another level.
“Looking around you have to think ‘who is going to do that now – get the goals and the assists?’ and thankfully for myself, I have managed to chip in over the ten or 12 games and I want to just keep that going.
“The idea of being a big player in the team is a good one. You want to take responsibility and if there is that little bit of pressure, where the team needs a goal, you want to be the one to get it. It is just something that as you get older, you do take a bit more responsibility and that’s what I am going to do.”
The latest win, whilst not moving the team up the table in terms of positions, put them in a place where if they can earn another three points at Hillsborough, they could conceivably go into Christmas in the top half of the table.
Given where they were on the opening day of October, it just shows how far they have come and how hard they have worked, especially with the injuries suffered by the squad during the last ten or so weeks.
“We have now closed the gap up to the top six, which two months ago I don’t think anyone would have imagined we would be anywhere near,” continued Tom.
“Three points is massive in this league and every game in this division is a difficult game, but we will go into Saturday full of confidence and looking for another three points.
“I think it shows the strength of character we have in the squad [the recent run]. Last year we had a similar run, but I think we have picked up more wins in this one, so we are happy with how we are playing and how we are accumulating points, but we can’t sit back and accept that.
“We are still 15th in the table, which is not where we want to be. We have to keep focused and stay motivated, keep working hard and hopefully we will keep picking up points.”
The latest win, against Millwall, came without the team hitting the highest levels of performance that have been shown in some of the recent games and ‘Barky’ feels this illustrated their current levels of confidence in their own abilities.
“Going back to last year, those are games we struggling in, especially to score goals, but to get another three goals is massive confidence wise.
“When teams come to Deepdale and sit in with two banks of four it is always going to be tough and the fact we are managing to score so many goals and pick up big wins for us is massive for our confidence.
“We have got some quality players in our team and thankfully we’ve been able to rely on people to step up and do what they can. Gally set up the two goals on Saturday and he has been a massive player for us recently.
“We just need to keep pulling together and pulling our weight and keep looking forward,” he added.
Watch the full interview with Tom on iFollow PNE now.