Preston North End’s Republic of Ireland international striker Sean Maguire returned to the squad at the weekend and after a difficult 2018, he is looking for a fresh start, both personally and with the team as they prepare for their first home league game of the new year.
The Lilywhites entertain Swansea City at Deepdale this Saturday and PNE’s No.24 admits it was good to get back out there and he is now very firmly looking forward, rather than the difficulties he faced in the previous 12 months.
“It was a good feeling to be back out there amongst the boys,” he told iFollow PNE down at the Springfields training ground. “I felt that 2018 wasn’t the best of years for me on and off the pitch.
“This is a fresh start, new year, it hasn’t been the best of starts for the team – with two losses – but to be back amongst the boys, training, coming in knowing I am going to be training and having that matchday feeling back is brilliant and I just have to step up the fitness now, take each games as it comes, hopefully get back in the team and try and push the team up the table.
“It is going to be like having eight new signings coming back into the squad this weekend! The three new boys seem like great lads. They have been training with us for the last week or so and there is no group better to come into and gel very quickly. I have spoken to the boys and told them that there is no better dressing room to come to and they have picked the right club.
“The weekend is a big game for us. I feel we have a big week coming up, to prepare to face a good Swansea team. I wasn’t involved in the first game we played down there, but listening to the reports, we could and should have taken something from the game.
“We just want to get back to winning ways and there would be no better place to do that than at home in front of our own fans at Deepdale.”
The frustrations of his previous injuries have given the forward a good knowledge of his own body and he says that patience and honesty are the two key factors in making sure he is not back on the treatment table too often.
“It is about managing myself; speaking to the gaffer, Tom Little and Jacko every single day and taking each day as it comes,” he continued. “Whether that’s assessing my training load or getting in the gym and doing my strength work, it is about being patient.
“I haven’t been probably fully match fit since before my first hamstring injury. In the summer I felt good, but I didn’t play any competitive games. So, the main focus is getting back fit and the best way to do that is in games. You can train as much as you want, but games are totally different.
“I got 15 minutes at the weekend and it is about being patient, getting more minutes under my belt and then getting my first start and hopefully that is sooner rather than later.
“I pulled out from going with Ireland over the summer and I didn’t really have a summer off. Even when I was on holidays I was working in the gym, harder than ever. If the boys are training four times a week, I might need to do three days and then get myself in the gym doing my strength work on my hamstrings and my quads.
“It is about being honest with the physio, with Tom Little and the gaffer every day and if I feel tired one day there is no point keeping it quiet, as it could cost me further down the line.
“I have to be smarter – I am 24 years of age now, I have been in the professional game since I was 18, so when I wake up in the morning I have to think ‘is it a good day to train’. It is a case of thinking logically about it and hopefully I have turned a corner and it is a fresh start with the new year and I can kick on.”
The clash with Graham Potter’s Swans is another tough game, but the former West Ham United frontman feels that with a number of additional options available to the manager, everyone can look forward with optimism and he hopes to start a good run against the Welshmen.
“It has been tough on the boys who have been playing over the Christmas period, because with the amount of injuries we have had, everyone has had to play 90 minutes four or five times in the space of a couple of weeks.
“We had four youth team players on the bench for most of those games, so it will be good to freshen things up this weekend. We’ll have the three new boys available, plus Josh [Earl], Browney, Brandon and myself back in the squad, so it is good for competition.
“You go into training knowing that you can’t be lackadaisical and it is good for the manager to have all these options back and it is good for the fans knowing that we will have plenty of options on the bench.
“This weekend is about getting back to winning ways and then who knows; this league can be crazy at times, you lose a few you find yourself in the bottom half and you win three or four on the bounce and you don’t know where you will end up,” he added.
Watch the full interview with Seani on iFollow PNE by clicking on the video above.