Preston North End’s on loan Manchester City winger Brandon Barker is relishing the chance he is getting after showing patience in recent months.
The summer capture from the Premier League leaders came into the side for injured top scorer Callum Robinson for Tuesday night’s clash with promotion-chasing Middlesbrough and winger played an influential role in a positive performance for the Lilywhites.
His chance came with Robinson ruled out for a number of months due to a hamstring tear, something Brandon has experienced for himself and he has words of encouragement for his team-mate as he starts his road to recovery.
“I like to influence the game when I play. I have had to bide my time a little bit; but through circumstances I was in the team on Tuesday and I thought I did alright and the more games that come, the better I will play,” he told iFollow PNE.
“Callum was doing fantastically well, everyone could see that and I am disappointed we haven’t had a chance to play together as I feel we could have both been assets for the team.
“I wish him all the best with his rehab, I have been where he has been and he just needs to get his head down and be strong and I know that he will be, with the character that he is. I’ll be delighted when he comes back and, hopefully, we can play together.
“I have had the same injury before. I had it four times before I was 20, quite severely, so that stopped my career a little bit, but you have to be strong mentally and I know Callum will be. He will strengthen it up, but he can’t rush things, he has to take his time make sure it is right.”
The No.21’s game is quite evident from watching his play, relishing every opportunity to use his raw pace to run at defenders, often leaving them for dead on Tuesday night or brining a foul and after assisting Alan Browne’s sixth goal of the season at Deepdale, he wants to have even more of an influence on games.
“People can see that my game is about running at people and I think that has been shown in the games I have played, even when I have had the ten-minute cameos, I try and run at defenders, play nice and sharp and get the boys running at the opposition, creating chances and hopefully I can keep doing that,” he continued.
“It was a great goal we scored [on Tuesday night] and we play good football - I can see that on the training ground every day. Yes, I gave Alan a pass for the goal, but he took it away from the defender - it was great feet – and he slotted it; a great finish. He is in great form at the moment and that is what we need.
“We need players to step up; an assist from myself is what I am trying to do, I am trying to add numbers. In the games I have started I have tried to assist or score and I need to keep doing that.
“Tommy B is in really good form, scoring most weeks and I need to get into that swing. I need to get off my shots, I need to keep assisting, which is probably my main strength.
“We have a good base – the back four has been exceptional for the last ten games and the midfield is unreal every single week. We just have to keep scoring, which we have really been doing since the start of the season, and if we can do that, we can put more points on the board.”
And as the side look to extend their unbeaten run to double figures, despite knowing the tough test he and the squad face at St Andrews, the City loanee says the group is full of confidence and only looking in one direction.
“We don’t fear anyone in this league. Even from the start, when we didn’t have that bit of luck and goals seemed to be flying in from everywhere, we were still confident.
“We seem to have changed that now, we have gritted our teeth and we are going for it more. We have that belief factor and I think that we should have. If we are going to achieve something in this league, we have to continue this.
“Nine unbeaten is a lot in this league, but hopefully the run continues and we make it ten this weekend. If we don’t, then we will not get disheartened, we know what this division is about, everyone can beat everyone and we need to keep focusing on getting those three points and climbing up that table.
“Even when we were bottom of the table, the boys were together. The gaffer looked us in the face and said ‘we are going to be okay’ and everyone knew that, but we can’t get complacent.
“We are on a good run, but we have to keep our feet on the ground and keep adding those points and climbing the table. Why can’t we push for the Play-Offs? You see what happens with a couple of wins, you fly up the table, and we need to focus on doing that,” he added.