Preston North End’s on loan Manchester City and England striker Lukas Nmecha put in an excellent display at Villa Park on Tuesday night.
The 19-year-old frontman felt it was his best performance in a lilywhite shirt and feels he has set a bar in terms of levels he needs to reach on a consistent basis and is looking to take that into the weekend’s derby clash with Wigan Athletic.
Speaking to iFollow PNE as the players returned to Springfields for the first time since the emotion-churning six-goal thriller with the Villans in midweek, Lukas felt his work-rate was key to how he played and learnt a lot from that.
“It was a game of mixed emotions; I was very upset about conceding the goal at the end, but then happy when we saved the penalty at the end,” he told iFollow. “All together I thought we deserved to win, but that’s football.
“I was happy [with his own performance]. I worked hard; harder than I have in any of the other games and that is a learning curve, to not always think what I am going to do, but just to work hard and then the rest will come.
“I won the penalty, which was a key moment. It was probably better to get the penalty at that stage, with the man getting sent off, and from that point we controlled the game until we went ahead. If DJ hadn’t been on I would have probably taken the pen, but he has been here a lot longer than me, so I had to respect him and he scored.
“There was plenty to build on It would obviously be nice to get the three points, they are very important at the moment. We need to get those ‘W’s’ and move up the table.”
The platform he gave himself is also repeated for the team, with their first point on the road something they are looking to consolidate by taking three points from the last game before the international break against Paul Cook’s Latics, who will want, themselves, to try and go into the break inside the top six.
“We have to build on Tuesday,” he continued. “We showed a lot of passion and showed that we can play when we believe in ourselves and don’t give the opposition too much respect; we are a very good side.
“The derby match adds to the fire and the passion we have got and we will look to go out there and get the three points, because that’s what we need at the moment.
“We need to make our own luck. We have scored two or three goals every game. It is about staying calm and after we score we need to not get anxious. Over the season the lads will get better at that, me included, but it is about learning from our mistakes. It has happened too many times now and needs it needs to stop.”
The No.45 also feels that his first goal, that he came so close to getting at Villa Park, striking the post and being brought down when clean through, which resulted in the penalty – scored by Daniel Johnson – and James Chester’s sending-off, could set him on a run and he wants to harness the passion of the fans to help him achieve that.
“I want to build on that [performance]. It takes a few games to get used to the division. In the first few games I did okay, but I didn’t impact the game as much as I wanted to, to try and start scoring straight away, but it is all about staying patient and taking the chances when they come along.
“I just need that first goal and then they could flow. The good performance was there on Tuesday against Villa and I just hope that I keep building on that and with confidence I know I can do some damage.
“It is all about atmosphere and how we feel when we go out onto the pitch. At Villa Park I thought our fans were amazing; they were louder than the Villa fans and when we scored I could hardly contain myself, jumping into the crowd, but we just need to get a win for them,” he added.
Watch the full interview with the City man and see what manager Alex Neil has to say on iFollow. All video interviews are available free of charge, without the need for subscription. To see Lukas’ chat with us, click on the video link at the top of the story.