After returning to action on Saturday, Ben Pearson admits that whilst he will not change his style of play, he is determined to use his experience and take a more cautious approach to his decision making in certain scenarios.
The 24-year-old was back in the starting Xl for last weekend’s 1-1 draw with Swansea City at Deepdale after serving his four match suspension for his sending off against Sheffield Wednesday in December.
Speaking to iFollow PNE, the tough tackling central midfielder explained that he is looking to avoid giving referees a decision to make when sliding in for tackles. However, that will not stop him from playing his normal game and if the ball is there to be won, he will still relish those 50/50 challenges.
“There was one on Saturday, I think it was a 50/50 and I was going to go sliding in and I sort of stepped back and let him have the ball,” said Pearson. “Obviously, if I think I can win it I’ll still go for it and I’m not going to change my game for the things that have happened over the past two years. I’m just riding on a bit more caution as to not do anything that I don’t need to do.
“I think a 50/50, I’ll still go for but it’s the ones where I can let him have it and try and jockey him or stay on my feet instead of just sliding for the sake of it.
“If I get a red again for a tackle which I think I can win then so be it but it’s just about taking myself out of scenarios that I don’t need to get myself into.”
Pearson played the full 90 minutes on his return to the line-up and North End’s No.4 revealed it took him a bit of time to find his feet in the game. While Pearson has been able to train throughout his suspension, the intensity of a matchday is raised to another level.
“I think everyone could probably see I was a bit rusty,” said Pearson. “I think that first half was just about getting back into the rhythm. I mean I’ve been training a couple of weeks, so my fitness was ok. The pace of the game is a lot different in matchdays so it just took a bit to get used to it but the more games I play over the next couple of weeks, the sharper I will get.
“If you look at the matchday’s compared to training, as intense as our training is, it’s completely different. There’s something riding on the game so everyone will naturally put that extra yard in.
“People are closing you down a bit quicker, you don’t want to lose the ball, so you’ve got to pick the right options all the time, so its more mentally as well as physically being right.
“I don’t think I’ve played for three weeks so that was always going to happen.”
There are a number of players currently being integrated back into the first team after injury as well as the January transfer arrivals coming into the squad. With so many players looking to find their feet, Pearson admitted it could take a little bit of time before North End fully click and start producing performances that they know they are capable of.
Pearson continued: “When you have a big influx of players, I know there’s only three or four new lads, but a lot of lads on Saturday hadn’t played as well so I think everyone has got to get that match sharpness back.
“It will take a few games for that to happen, but we’ve got to make sure we get back to performances like we did a couple of months back and start picking up points because that’s the main thing at the minute.”
Looking ahead to the next game, Pearson is expecting a tough test when North End travel to Loftus Road to take on Queens Park Rangers this weekend. PNE claimed all three points in the home fixture against QPR with a 1-0 victory on the opening day of the campaign back in August, but Steve McLaren’s side have improved in recent months.
“If you look at them in the league, they’ve probably gone in the past 15 to 20 games without losing too many so they’ve picked up and they’ve done well.
“We know their strengths and weaknesses and we know what to expect. It was a tough game at their place last year, but I don’t think first half we played particularly well and in the second half we did a lot better. We just need to play the full 90 on Saturday at full throttle and hopefully get the win.”
Listen to Ben's full interview on iFollow PNE.