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First Team News

Tom Barkhuizen Focused On The Task At Hand

10 March 2020

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Preston North End forward Tom Barkhuizen says that the squad must remain focused as the remaining number of games drops to single figures.

The Lilywhites enter the final nine games in a top six spot and, despite recent results, are in control of their own destiny as they begin preparations for the weekend’s trip to Luton Town.
And ahead of the clash at Kenilworth Road, the North End No.29 feels the squad should remember what got them into the position they are currently in.
“We have done a lot of reflecting on the game on Saturday, just to get a few things off our chest collectively and now it is about coming in and getting ourselves ready for Saturday,” he told iFollow PNE.
“It is important to keep our focus. We know we are going through a difficult period, which we have done before and we know that we will come through the other side like we have done before.
“We are fortunate that we have managed to keep ourselves in and around it, which is important and we just need to stay confident, take confidence from the first half the other day and just get ourselves in the right frame of mind to keep focused and keep going, because we are in an unbelievable position where we are playing above expectations and we have to embrace it.
“It is a really good position to be in and what is the point in worrying about it? We have had a few bad results, but everyone is having bad results. We just have to look at what we are doing, look at how we got to where we are and keep doing that.”
The former Morecambe attacker feels that it is important that the intensity is shown throughout games and that a ruthlessness is required in the remaining matches.
“It is vital now that we stay focused,” he continued. “We had a great first half the other day; we dominated QPR and we knew they were going to come out fighting and we know that they have good players and unfortunately, we let our standards slip.
“That is where it becomes frustrating, because 20 games ago you could get away with that because there are always more games to come, whereas now you cannot afford to lose that focus and determination and take your foot off the gas.
“You really have got to go for it and put games to bed. Unfortunately, we didn’t do that at the weekend and we will learn from it.”
The Championship is very tight, with every side still having something to play for and Barky feels this will help in the remaining matches, with no one free from some sort of pressure: “About ten teams can still get relegated and another ten can still get the spot that we occupy; maybe a couple more.
“It is not like teams are going into games thinking they have nothing to play for – which often become the more difficult games, because you know the pressure is on you to go and win and when a team has no pressure at all, it makes them a little bit more free and they are really difficult to play.
“So the fact we are playing against teams who have a lot to play for, it probably does help us a little bit, as there is pressure on both sides and it is about who handles it better and, for us, we have to be mentally strong enough to do that.”
The Hatters are certainly in the bracket of having plenty to play for and will be fighting for every point in those nine games that are left, but the man who sits joint top of the PNE goalscorers chart for 2019/20 says his team need to keep doing the basics correctly.
“We know they are going to be good at home; their home form is pretty decent. It has come at a time where our away form has been decent – I know we lost the last two, bit they were at first and third in the league, but our away form over the last three months has really picked up.
“It is about going there, doing our jobs individually and collectively and trying to get the three points.
“We have to look what is a three-game week optimistically. There is no point looking at it the other way and thinking ‘what is we lose? We could be out of the Play-Offs’, who cares?! There are still eight games to go after that.
“As long as we give everything we have got, as long as individually and collectively we stick to our jobs and do the basics of the game right - the things that have got us to where we are – then we have nothing to worry about. We have shown we can match anyone in this league and we have to keep proving it,” he added.

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