Tom Barkhuizen believes things haven’t quite clicked for Preston North End since their return to football after the season’s suspension, but he’s confident that the side can get back to their best in the club’s 5000th league game.
PNE will become the first team in English football to reach that landmark when Derby County come to Deepdale on Wednesday evening in another match between two Play-Off contenders.
The last two games have brought a draw away at Luton Town and a home defeat to Cardiff City last weekend, but Barky is hopeful of a better result on Wednesday.
“Unfortunately, things don’t always click and for us at both ends of the pitch things just aren’t clicking at the moment,” he said.
“We’re creating chances, but it’s just not quite falling or we aren’t being as clinical as we were at the start of the season and then at the other end every little mistake is being punished.
“You look at the Luton game, they had absolutely nothing all game and then from one little error they score a worldie. They’re probably the games that are the toughest to take because we aren’t being dominated by teams, we aren’t being bullied by teams.
“It’s just individual little things that we haven’t quite got right since we came back and probably a little bit before we stopped as well that are costing us at the moment.
“But the fortunate thing is that there’s a lot of teams that are pretty similar. Teams are going to take points off other teams constantly every single week. You look at results you see Swansea lose at home to Luton, they go to Middlesbrough and pump them 3-0 and you think at home against Luton they probably should win and Luton go and win.
“And then you’re looking from our point of view it kind of puts things into perspective that we aren’t the only team that haven’t quite clicked since we got back and we’ve only got a little bit of time to sort that over the coming weeks but obviously the sooner we do it the better and hopefully that can be Wednesday.”
Alex Neil’s side head into the game now three points outside of the Play-Offs, but Barky feels that he and his team-mates may fare better chasing the pack rather than having others chase them.
He told us: “You look at the results of other teams: Bristol City lost again, Blackburn lost at Wigan, Millwall have only got one point like we have since they got back. Cardiff have won back-to-back games but the chances of them winning every game are highly unlikely so from our point of view the season is nowhere near finished.
“If anything, dropping out the top six could be a blessing in disguise. I think our form since we went top has probably been patchy at best. We’ve probably won games that we didn’t deserve to win and lost games we didn’t deserve to lose.
“It’s just one of those things and thankfully the start to the season that we had has put us in a position where we have had a bit of a lean patch but we’re still only three points off the Play-Offs and I’ve mentioned looking at the bigger picture quite a few times, but we still need to do that.
“You kind of have to forget about your form and how you’re playing and try to find a win. Unfortunately for us we, haven’t been able to do that yet, but we’ll be trying our absolute best to turn it around.”
PNE’s No.29 realises that it’s the fine margins that are going against the squad at the moment but he’s confident that one victory can kickstart a more positive run of results.
“There’s probably people out there now saying we aren’t going to win a game until the end of the season, that’s just how football works, but then we go and win on Wednesday and suddenly it’s ‘oh we’re getting promoted again’.
“Football’s a confidence game. Whether you’re a player or a fan, your demeanour of how you go on to the pitch and how you go to a game or how you watch a game reflects on the last result.
“If you lose then you can’t see where your next win’s coming from but as soon as you get a win no matter how you get it, you could be the worst team for 94 minutes of the game and score a deflection or score from a corner and you win the game and suddenly it’s ‘oh we’re back and we’re playing well again’.
“It’s just a case of taking each game as it comes. They’re all going to be big games and there’s a big group of teams in a similar position to us that are probably under more pressure than we are and we’ll go and give everything we’ve got and we’ve done that since the gaffer’s come in and I don’t see why that’s going to change now.”
Watch Barky’s full interview for free on iFollow by clicking the video above as he discusses more about the visit of Derby County, his experience of playing in front of an empty stadium and much more.