Preston North End’s trip to Norwich City this weekend has been chosen as one of the pilot games where fans will be allowed back into stadia and midfielder Ben Pearson is seeing it as a boost.
The Lilywhites No.4 has said all along that the extra buzz of the crowd plays a big part in his game and he hopes that even with a small number allowed into Carrow Road, will provide that extra edge to take his – and the team’s – performance to the next level.
“It is like being back in Sunday league where you can hear everything that is said,” Ben joked, referencing the fact there will be small number of people spread out across the large seated areas at the home of the Canaries.
“There has to be a start and 1,000 won’t make too much difference, but it is a start and hopefully over the next couple of months we can grow those numbers.
“It will add a different element to it. Without fans you have been able to hear everything – the close you are to the manager, the worse off you are, because you can hear everything he says!
“It won’t affect things too much, if anything it will give a boost to everyone – probably them more so than us – but hopefully it gets the adrenaline going and makes it feel more like a proper game.
“It is tough to get motivated when there are no fans; it doesn’t necessarily feel like a league game. The Swansea game was played at a high intensity and one of the games where it felt more like a proper game, given it was the first game of the season, so you are up for that and motivated, but the fans and the noise they generate make you realise how important it is and once fans are in that feeling will soon come back.”
The team head to Norfolk on the back of a Carabao Cup victory at Derby County on Tuesday night and whilst Pearo was not in the squad to face the Rams, he feels it provided a welcome boost to the dressing room.
“Regardless of the competition, getting a win under the belt early gives a bit of confidence to the team, the staff, the fans and it is important to get your first win as early as possible and we did that,” he continued.
“The first game of the season is always a tough one; people always run around like headless chickens, getting that buzz of being back, so I don’t think there is much to take from the first game.
“These next two, three, four games is where you start getting your proper match fitness and that’s when you will see teams go on a run and hopefully, like last year, that will be us.”
The opposition on Saturday afternoon started with a 1-0 win on the opening day at Huddersfield Town and the former Manchester United man feels that will be one of the favourites to go straight back up to the top flight.
“They will probably be one of the favourites to go straight back up. They have signed a few, including [Jordan] Hugill and they will be strong. They have retained a lot of the players who got them promoted, but in this league, anyone can beat anyone, so we won’t be scared and we will go there looking for the win.
“They have got a good squad, so like any game it is going to, but we have played them before, we have come up against all the players before, we just have to play as well as we can and build some momentum.
“There is an added connection with the manager and I am sure he wants to win and with them one of the favourites to go up, we will want to go and show what we are about and that we can compete at that level,” he added.
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