Preston North End’s Irish international striker Sean Maguire feels that he is getting back to his best.
The No.24 scored his first goal of an injury-ravaged season in the impressive home win over Norwich City last week and he has set himself a personal target for the remaining games.
Speaking to iFollow PNE, as he looked ahead to the weekend’s tough encounter with Millwall down in London, the forward feels things are on an upward trajectory for the Lilywhites at present.
“It is all about building momentum in this league and the last seven games we have been unbeaten,” he said. “The last week has been a big week for us, getting seven points from three games and it is the first time this season we are looking up the table, rather than down.
“We are looking to keep this unbeaten run going, continue this form and confidence is getting higher and higher in the group – and on a personal level as well – and we will look to the Millwall game hoping to gain another three points.
“You can see that the new signings coming in and with boys coming back from injuries that the team is starting to gel together and this is the first time we have been in the top half of the table since the start of the season.
“I saw a stat the other day that if we had started the league on the 6th October, we would have been in the top three, just behind Norwich and Leeds; so that’s a great achievement from ourselves and we just have to keep it going.
“The Play-Offs aren’t too far away and anything is possible, but we will take it game by game and its another big game at the weekend. Millwall are down near the bottom right now and will be fighting for their lives, but we will go there looking to win the game.”
His goal against the Canaries was his first since the team’s 3-1 home win over Leeds United, back in April 2018, but he explained that this had not worried him.
“The goals didn’t bother me too much,” he continued. “Before the injury I was focused on scoring goals and winning games, but coming back from injury it was about finishing games, making sure I was topping up on match fitness and sharpness, but last week was still a really important goal for me.
“Confidence wise it was big, and in the game, it was an important goal for us, as it came as Norwich were getting on top.
“I want to build on that now. I want to finish the season on a high. I feel I am at my peak fitness wise and match sharpness wise.
“Nottingham Forest wasn’t my best game personally, but the previous two games you could see that was me back to my best.
“There are 13 games left to go and I have a marker I want to finish the season on and I will hope to reach that.
“I think [last week] was the first time I had started three games in a week in around 14 or 15 months, but I felt great. We are through that now, we have a week to recover to be ready for the next big game, at the weekend.”
The next test, at the New Den, will be a difficult one, with the Lions’ confidence set to be high after reaching the quarter-final of the FA Cup, setting up a home tie with Brighton & Hove Albion.
So with the opposition just one step from Wembley, the 24-year-old is well aware of how much of a threat they will pose to PNE’s current run of results.
“It is a tough game against a good, strong Millwall team who are very aggressive.
“I have watched a lot of their games and they have done really well to get to the quarter-finals of the FA Cup and they are a good team.
“I played against them last season at Deepdale and they went on that run late last season, nearly making the Play-Offs, so they are by no means a bad team.
“We will be looking to go there, show them respect, but hopefully take the three points.
“There is always one team that comes out of nowhere in the Championship each year and I feel that we can be that team. You can take inspiration from Millwall last season. They only finished a couple of points outside of the Play-Offs and it was a great achievement on their behalf.
“Fulham were similar, who went on an excellent run, finished just outside the automatic [positions] and then went up through the Play-Offs.
“You win a couple of games and you can take the confidence and momentum from that into this league and you never know where that can take you,” he added.