Tom Clarke knows that the upcoming games against lower league opposition, starting with the Bamber Bridge fixture on Saturday, can’t be taken lightly.
The PNE skipper is aware that travelling to teams in lower divisions are big games for the hosts and he expects an intense affair on Saturday afternoon.
Speaking to iFollowPNE ahead of the first pre-season game, Clarke said: “They’re going to be difficult games. They’re big games for the teams we’re playing against and we know they’re going to be intense games.
“That’s what you want, you want to be ready for that first game come the start of the season. These games will help us towards that.
“They’ve been picked carefully and they’re something we’re looking forward to. I can’t wait for them.
“There’s no excuses. Normally you go to these teams and the pitch is difficult and bobbly and you have to adapt to it.
“They’ve done tremendously with the pitch there and it’s always been brilliant. We can impose our game, play and work on what we want.”
“It’s nice to play the first game and get in front of the fans and meet them all again in close knit quarters.
“The pitch is quite tight and they’re on top of you so it’s good. There was a great atmosphere last time, I’m looking forward to it.
“Getting those minutes in as quick as possible - training has been good, it’s been intense – but you get that more with the games.
“With the new faces it’s trying to get them into what we do as a team and how we play, what the manager wants and demands from us as quickly as possible.”
Tom Clarke has been utilising Cryo Express clinic to aid their recovery after some tough pre-season sessions along with goalkeeper Declan Rudd and the pair are already feeling the benefits.
"After these tough sessions you want to recover as quickly as you can. We’ve had them come to the training ground a couple of times, really felt the benefit of it and managed to find out that there was one in Blackburn. We decided to go ahead with it after a tough day, felt the benefits and recovered quick. It’s about getting the body ready to go again.
"It’s been tough. You know what you’re going to go through during pre-season but it’s been good, it's enjoyable, getting to know the new faces in the group and the familiar faces too. It’s been a good week, tough, but we are ready to go again.
"It’s not nice. We’ve all got the cream on trying to get through it! We know it’s going to be difficult, yes, it’s been warm weather, but it’s been getting us used to it. The group have done well and we are looking to go again in what’s going to be a tough week."
Saturday’s game has been amended to a 12.30pm kick off to accommodate England's World Cup quarter final clash with Sweden, the Three Lions qualifying from the Round of 16 in dramatic fashion through a penalty shoot-out on Tuesday night.
To many North End fans, the heroics of ex-Lilywhite Jordan Pickford will not have been a surprise due to his stand out performances whilst on loan at Deepdale, and it’s no surprise to his former captain either.
“I think I’ve told everyone that’s asked that I’ve played with him. You could always tell that he’d be a great keeper, he's got a great personality and he's a great lad to be around.
“We knew he’d go on and achieve great things and he’s done that. It was a tremendous save in the shoot-out to put them back into the tie and to get them through. He’s done brilliantly.
“He had a great season. He’s a great leader as well, even for a young lad. He came to us and he’s played a lot of games, even in the lower leagues and I think that benefitted him. When he came to us he kicked us on and he’s done tremendously.
On the influence of Gareth Southgate's side, Clarke continued: “It brings the younger generation through. They’re watching the World Cup on TV, it's getting them introduced in to the game and hopefully that helps all the clubs, and definitely us, bringing new fans to the stadium and getting behind us.”
You can watch the full interview with Tom Clarke by clicking on the video above.