Irish international duo Sean Maguire and Callum Robinson returned to training in midweek, having been given an extra week off.
The pair spent three weeks away with Mick McCarthy’s Republic of Ireland in the summer and were therefore allowed an extended off season, but are now back and ready to start playing catch up.
Speaking to iFollow PNE on his first day back with the full squad at Springfields, Maguire talked about his time away with the boys in green and how his hopes are that his 2020 off season is even shorter.
“It has been a different kind of summer for me, as it was the first time I have been away with Ireland,” he told the club’s online video service. “Last year I got injured, whereas this year I had a little bit of a break, went away with Ireland for three weeks, and then gave myself ten days to switch off, before the last week I have been in the gym, working on strength work, on my hamstrings and now I am really pleased to be back and hitting pre-season strongly.
“It was brilliant [with Ireland]. In terms of getting results, Mick McCarthy has done brilliantly. Ten points from four games is exactly what we wanted. If you had come to us or the fans before the qualifying started and offered us that, they we would have gladly taken it. The Gibraltar games could easily have been banana skins, but we got through them with six points and it was a tough game against Denmark and we came away with a point, which was a massive bonus. We have a couple of games in September to look forward to and we will look forward to them looking for two wins.
“Hopefully next summer we want to be having no break at all, because we want to be involved in the European Championships. We have some tough qualifiers coming up, but we just have to try and compete. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity to be involved. I have seen looking in from the outside what happens when the country gets to the Euros or World Cups – the country comes together and hopefully that’s something I can be part of in the near future.”
Now back at the training ground, the 25-year-old is expecting an intensive few days for him and Callum as they look to make up for the missed time: “The boys are a week ahead of us, but when we were away with Ireland for three weeks, they were probably chilling on the beach!” He continued.
“We were back in on our own on Wednesday, seeing what our fitness levels are like and it looks like we will have a good base going into pre-season. We will probably see a lot of Tom Little [Fitness Coach] in the next ten days or so, as we try to play catch up. All the boys look in really good form.
“I am looking to do the same as I did in the last pre-season, in terms of how well I did. The last off season I really worked hard, but this time around I switched off for a couple of weeks and then really worked hard, especially in the gym. So, I will be looking to repeat the last pre-season and then take it into the new season, where I am really looking to push on.
“It is my third year now with Preston North End. In the first year, both individually and as a team, it went quite well – I know had a long-term injury, but finishing with ten goals and in seventh place, just outside the Play-Offs was okay; then last year it wasn’t particularly a good season for me or the team. We had a lot of injuries to key players at key times, but hopefully both seasons being quite different will stand the team and I in good stead this year.”
And as the games start, there is one in particular that stands out for the forward: “The league campaign for Cork City really hasn’t been going as planned, they find themselves seventh or eighth in the table, but it will be really nice to go back there.
“I am looking forward to seeing some familiar faces, see the fans and hopefully they have good crowd, because there will be the likes of myself, Alan Browne and Adam O’Reilly, going back to Cork.
“It will be good to go back; it will be different circumstances being in the away dressing room, but it will be nice to see everyone,” he added.