Paul Gallagher may have been here many times before, counting down the days to the start of a new season, but he is still like a child before Christmas in his excitement levels.
The North End No.12 spoke to iFollow PNE ahead of the start of the Lilywhites’ 2018/19 SkyBet Championship campaign and said that the opener against Steve McLaren’s Queens Park Rangers was the talk of the town.
“There is only so much you can do in pre-season; it is all about building up to that first game,” said Gally. “Everyone is excited, from the players to the supporters. That first day of the season you want to get off to a good start. You have done all the hard yards in training; the difficult runs you have to do to prepare yourself physically and mentally for a long hard season.
“Everyone is looking in good shape – we have had a good pre-season and now we are looking forward to the good stuff.
“Everyone is talking about it this week. You go out into the city and everyone wants to talk about the start and then you turn up to the stadium and you hear that buzz and the atmosphere of the season starting and you really want to get off to a good start.
“Usually it is hot weather, people are in the short sleeves and in the new strips and really looking forward to it. We know what we have to do. We have worked in pre-season on how we want to go and attack the new season and we have to put that into practice in the first game and kick on from there.
“We know it is going to be difficult, because a lot of clubs have invested and spent a lot of money, and everyone in this division can gain promotion. No one has that right to go up; anyone can beat anyone and that’s why people love this division. We want to try and give ourselves the best opportunity by starting well.
“It is going to be a tough start. Queens Park Rangers have got a new manager in, who knows the division really well, but if we do what we have been working on and implement our strategy, then we should come away with a good result.”
The 33-year-old started last season with illness and injury, but this time around it feels like preparations have got him in good shape and he is looking to add to the 223 appearances he has already made in a lilywhite shirt.
“On a personal note I feel really good,” he continued. “I have played a number of minutes and I looked after my body really well over the summer.
“One thing I wanted to do and I had in the back of my mind, was to have a good pre-season. Over the years I have managed to have had good pre-seasons, but looking back to last year, I missed a chunk of the season and not playing isn’t good.
“But I was always there to encourage the lads as an experienced player, but having coming come through pre-season this year feeling really good, I am looking forward to the season.”
And whilst the old adage of taking one game at a time is inherent from the off within the squad, the experienced midfielder believes that getting off to a good start is something the dressing room will be looking to do once again.
“You can never look too far ahead. You want to get off to the best possible start and that means getting three points at the weekend. We managed that last season, which got us off to a good start and we will be looking to do that again, but people will probably sit up and take notice of how well we have done the last few years.
“They will come here knowing they are in for a difficult game and will try and stop the way we play. Then it will be up to us to try and break them down and find out a way to win the game.
“It is going to be an interesting season, but the experience we have in the dressing room now will stand us in good stead. The manager has already said that we have a really good squad here now, with a lot of people fighting for places, but the harmony and the togetherness is always there.
“Everyone is pushing in the one direction and I am really looking forward to the season starting and I am sure the supporters are really excited too,” he added.