Sean Maguire stepped up his recovery from a hamstring injury this week when he featured in a behind-closed-doors game against Burnley at Turf Moor.
The striker has been side-lined since October, but after returning to full training the Irishman continued the recovery process by getting some vital minutes under his belt against the Premier League side.
Though Maguire's return isn't imminent, the striker is looking forward to returning to competitive action and in the meantime is working hard on his fitness levels to try and hit the ground running.
On getting crucial game time on Tuesday afternoon, the 24-year-old said: "You can train as much as you want but match fitness is totally different. It was a good, competitive game, they had a lot of experienced players and so did we so it was a good game.
"I've got those minutes in the tank now and it's about moving forward with that.
"It's touching distance away now, hopefully in the next couple of weeks I can be back in contention for selection.
"The last couple of months has been about getting that fitness up with the fitness coach Tom Little and getting a bit of air in my lungs.
"Now I'm back in training with the squad and to get some minutes in the tank against Burnley was brilliant. Just to get the matchday feeling back, waking up in the morning and knowing you had a game, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel now and I'm just looking forward."
Maguire has his sights set on helping the side's push for the Play-Offs when he returns to action, and is feeling positive about the final stages of the season.
"I feel stronger than I was before, my hamstring feels really strong. It's all positive and we have a lot of important games between now and then end of the season and I want to play my part in that.
"We are still in contention for the Play-Offs, if we are still there or thereabouts with four or five games to go we will take that.
"We had a difficult result last weekend but that will push us forward now, we have a big three games coming up next week with two of those against teams that are around us and a derby game against Bolton on Saturday.
"I want to get back to where I was before, that's getting myself back in the team and doing as much as I can for the squad and hopefully get back in to getting goals and assists.
"At the end of the day, it's not about you individually, at this stage of the season we just want three points and that's all we will be looking to do in every game."
With the light clearly visible at the end of the tunnel, Maguire thanked the North End fans for their support during his injury, as well as his teammates and supporters back home in the Republic of Ireland.
"The fans have been brilliant, even since the news first broke out that I was injured. Since the day I signed the fans were very welcoming as have all the boys in the squad.
"When news broke out about the injury the support I received from everyone was unbelievable.
"Long may that continue, the support that I've been getting from the fans, the boys and even the fans back home has been unbelievable and it's given me that extra push to get back to where I was before I got injured."