PNE Academy midfielder Ben Dooley is relishing his newfound mentor role as he prepares to enter his second season as a scholar in the U18 squad.
Dooley, 17, made a total of 31 appearances for the youth side last season with eight of those coming off the bench.
The Liverpudlian feels ready for the added responsibilities that face him in the 2020/21 season, which gets underway this Saturday at home to Carlisle United.
He said: “I thought I had a good run in my first year, I had a lot of leaders around me pushing me forward and helping me out like any second year needs to do which was good.
“Even though this is a big season for me, I need to be a teacher for the first years, the person to trust and the person that they can come to for any advice.”
The squad returned to training last month having been away since March and have had a number of pre-season friendlies in preparation for the upcoming campaign.
Dooley and his team-mates were pleased to bring an end to the Zoom meetings and be back on the pitch, where they’ve been joined by 10 new first-year scholars.
He said: “It was great to be back in training, everyone was buzzing to see each other, and it was some normality, even though we started in groups of five.
“Once we all started training together, the jokes, the smiles, the laughs we all have as a team returned and it was great to see.
“We’ve all got on well, the second years are helping out the first years as much as we can and it’s a positive environment.”
The Lilywhites were in contention for the title before the 2019/20 season was brought to an abrupt end and then terminated in May.
Dooley is confident that the team can emulate the success of last season in what is an important few months for the youngster on a personal level.
“There’s a few things we need to work on as a team, but it is only pre-season and that will come naturally. I think with the way we’re being coached right now, we’ll have a lot of success this season.
“My goal is just to get minutes and always have a positive mentality and a good attitude to play.
“Obviously for every player your target is to get over that line to get a professional contract, which hopefully will happen for me.”
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