The result, performance and his goal would have come as a relief in more ways than one for Tom Barkhuizen this evening as the Lilywhites got back to winning ways in style at the City Ground.
Barkhuizen was one of three goalscorers this evening, with his header in the second half giving North End a second, and although it hasn’t been revealed until now, the attacking midfielder has fought off illness and, as a result fatigue, in recent weeks to come back firing this evening.
Barkhuizen said: “I wouldn’t say I’m quite back to 100 per cent yet, I’ve got an appointment with the doctor to make sure I’m fully okay because I felt really fatigued since losing a couple of kilos a few weeks ago and I myself didn’t realise how much it had taken out of me.
"Even after Sheffield United I felt really bad after the game legs wise. Thankfully today I’ve managed to get through 90 minutes. I’ll be sore tomorrow but I’ll rest up and get ready for Saturday.
“From my point of view, I’ve needed that goal, I’ve not been at my best these last few weeks and I think second half I got to what I’m good at and it helped us get the three points.”
It’s not just Barkhuizen who will go home this evening a happy goalscorer, with team-mate Billy Bodin grabbing his first goal since signing for the club earlier this month.
Barkhuizen knows first hand how difficult it can be to step up from a lower division into the Championship, yet the No. 29 feels Bodin has adapted to life at PNE extremely well, typifying the team spirit amongst the camp.
“It’s so important for yourself to get off the mark as quickly as possible,” analysed Barkhuizen.
“That’s his third game and he’s got his goal and his all round play - it was probably his best performance tonight. Him and Louis have settled in really well and that’s the type of team we are.
"We make people feel welcome when they play in your position, it’s not a case of he’s come here to take my place and I’m really happy for Billy tonight, getting on the scoresheet and putting us on our way.”
The manager stressed to his players in recent days that their attention must be on the matches at hand amidst what can be an unsettling time during the January transfer window, and after Callum Robinson stepped up tonight in Jordan Hugill’s absence, Barky also believes Callum has staked a claim of his own to resume in the same position come Saturday.
He continued: “Obviously things are going on with Jordan which are out of the players control and it’s got absolutely nothing to do with us. I’m not sure if Callum was playing before the game, but he was brilliant, he worked the channel and he’s staked a claim to play Saturday but that’s the type of team we are, everybody wants to take their chance when they come in and everybody wants each other to do well
“It’s been long overdue (the result). In the last few games, we’ve not been at our best and we haven’t picked up points as a result but it’s great to come away from home and put on a performance which keeps us right in the the thick of things when it comes to the Play-Offs.
“First half, we weren’t quite at it and it was a bit of a scrappy game and they were getting a few counter attacks but we addressed it at half-time. The gaffer gives us a game plan and that’s what we’ve done, we’ve stuck to it and we’ve come away 3-0 winners. They’ve not had a shot so it’s no more than what we deserved and we need to keep it going.”
Tom's interview is now available to view on iFollow now.