Irish international winger Daryl Horgan is enjoying pre-season and the battle to be in the manager’s starting XI come the opening day of the season.
The former Dundalk man returned with the rest of the squad from their Irish training camp at Fota Island on Friday afternoon and said it had been a worthwhile trip.
“It has been a good trip,” he told iFollow PNE. “It was great to get away and have the only focus on football, with no outside influences whatsoever. We played the game against Cobh and played well and it has been a good pre-season so far.
“I have been pleased how it had gone so far for me personally. I have said before that I found it a tough year, last year, but I went away over the summer and worked hard and now I am just trying to show the manager that I deserve a spot in his team.
“It is not going to be easy; we have a really, really strong squad at the minute, it's incredibly strong and competitive, but that can only be good and only be healthy.
“If you are not at your game for a couple of weeks, then you won’t play. There is such a strength in depth now and no one is going to play every minute of all 46 games, it is just too many in such a competitive league, so when you have people who are good enough to step up to the plate, that is a good place to be.”
That competition for places amongst the squad means it will be a difficult job for the manager when it comes to selecting his 18 and then starting 11 for the clash with Queens Park Rangers on August 4th, but the No.17 feels it is a job the PNE gaffer will relish.
“It is not an easy job for the manager; I suppose he has to be very single-minded and strong in his beliefs,” he continued. “Everyone wants to play and everyone believes he should play, so it is a tough job.
“On the other hand, he has 24 lads who are all flying and all really want to play and he probably would prefer that than struggling to get 11 on the pitch, so he is probably delighted with the effort that has been going in and the work that has been done in pre-season so far.
“The season is coming up and pre-season will kick up a gear now, with the opposition at another level, but it will be good for us and hopefully we can get a couple of good results and play well.”
In preparation for that first clash of the new SkyBet Championship season the intensity and quality of the pre-season opponents goes up a notch this weekend, with two Premier League opponents in the space of three days.
“They are two very difficult games. They will be a week behind us pre-season wise, but they will still be very very good.
“West Ham have been splashing £60m on players and with the quality they are looking to bring in, they are looking to push up the table. Burnley also finished seventh last season and they have Europe to come, with a game against Aberdeen coming up, so that will be a really tough game as well.
“It will be great to play at home. There should be a bit of a crowd, and it will be good to get back to Deepdale and hopefully get another win under our belt,” added Daryl.
Click on the link at the top of the page to watch the full interview with Daryl on iFollow PNE.