Preston North End full back Josh Earl is back with the first team after two loan spells in 2019/20.
The left-sided defender spent time with both Bolton Wanderers and Ipswich Town in the last campaign, but was frustrated by injuries limiting his game time with both.
However, he is back at Deepdale, fully fit and is ready to get going again. Speaking to PNE.Com he said: “I’m really looking forward to being back with the boys. I was back with them after lockdown, but not available to play, so now I am excited to start playing football with the boys again.
“I made my debut when I was 18-years-old, but I am not a young player now. I am 21 and I have to be looking to solidify a spot for myself and that is the aim for this season, to see what I can do.
“I have to prove the gaffer that I am ready to go and play and that is what I am aiming to do.”
The time down the road with the Trotters and down in Suffolk were experiences the youth team graduate believes he can learn from: “The loan spells were really beneficial,” continued Josh. “I didn’t play enough, due to the injuries I had, but I learnt a lot, playing at different levels, with different players, so it was a really good experience for me.
“I also got some life experience when I was down in Ipswich. I had to learn to cook for myself and it was good to play my football a long way from home. I enjoyed both the spells away, but now I am looking forward to being back here.
“I have to use what I learnt in those experiences and bring it back into my game here. I have to show the gaffer what I can do again and earn the right to be part of the team.”
And he now sees 2020/21 as a big year for him: “It’s a big season for me. I have to work hard, fight for my place and show what I can do.
“I haven’t been out on the pitch for a while, due to the injury and then the lockdown, so the pre-season games are something I am really looking forward to.
“I want to be playing as quick as possible, really push myself in these games and put myself in the frame.”
The shortened break between seasons was one where a lot of players completely switched off and didn’t do too much work, but that was not the case for Josh, as he explained.
“I did as much as I possibly could during the off season. I had the injury to my ankle before lockdown, so I couldn’t do too much running, but when I came back here, I was back out on the pitch.
“So, the time off was about doing as much as I could to be ready to go when we came back in.
“I feel like I have had a good rest; my body has had the rest before pre-season and I have a fresh body to take into the new campaign,” he added.
Watch the full interview with Josh on iFollow PNE now by clicking on the video at the top of the page.