As a Stoke-born player, this weekend’s trip means more than most to North End’s No.9 Louis Moult.
Having spent 18 months on the sidelines, this game was always in the diary for the Preston North End striker and he is hoping that it could be one where he takes the next steps in his recovery.
Speaking to iFollow PNE, the former Motherwell frontman says that having got through the experience of being involved for the first time after a long time out down at Swansea – where, of course, the injury happened – he now hopes that he can achieve the next stage of his come back at a ground he knows well.
“It is massive for me,” he said. “I was always looking at this one, so to be on the bench against Swansea and Brentford was always a bit of a bonus for me, as I had always pencilled in this one and hopefully the other games put me ahead a little bit and I have had that experience of being back on the bench and now, I am looking for my next step of staying involved and trying to get on the pitch and hopefully I can achieve.
“I think it was quite important mentally to get through it. A few people said to me straight away ‘that’s where you did it’ and I obviously knew, but I tried not to think about it. I went to the ground and had a look around the pitch, I had a little look at the area where it happened, but as soon as the game started, I forgot all about it; I was warming up as normal, warming up with a temp as if I was going to get on and the way the game went and the positive result helped.”
Just being back in training is something that Louis is enjoying and he is taking each step gently along the way: “I am really enjoying it. [Being back out on the training pitch] was a massive step for me after 18 months out,” he continued. “Just to be back involved was massive for me and I am enjoying every minute of it.
“It is now about those little steps. I am just taking it a day at a time. There is only three or four weeks left in the season, but I am not thinking about that, I am just thinking a day at a time – enjoy it, play with a smile on my face.
“The next thing for me is getting on the pitch and it would be a great moment if I could do it in my home town. The main thing for us as a football club is to try and get the three points and that’s massive.”
His current club and his first club meet for the 100th time in league action on Saturday lunchtime and he believes that the two are very similar, both as clubs and at cities – and his won beginnings at the bet365 Stadium were watching players with strong PNE connections.
“I have great memories [of his time at Stoke], obviously, it is my home town – I was there for ten years, I made my debut for them in the Premier League, which was a great honour, so I am really looking forward to this weekend.
“Gally was there when I was coming through. I was about 15 or 16 at the time, coming through and I sued to watch Gally quite a lot; Ricardo Fuller was another, who was another great player, along with Danny Pugh. They were all great people, who helped me on and off the pitch.
“They are two great clubs, two very similar clubs. They are two very old clubs with a great history and the cities are very similar as well. Living near Stoke and having lived near Preston for a period of time I feel like they are similar places with working clash people with brilliant morals and nice people.
“I am from Stoke and I enjoy their traditions and Preston is very similar in those aspects as well, all the people have been spot on.
“It is quite rare to have British owners these days in the top divisions; Mr Coates and our owner have both got family members involved as well, which is fantastic, it is great for the English game,” he added.
You can watch the game live and listen to former North End defender Michael Jackson on iFollow PNE this Saturday, when he joins Jonathan Breeze for full-match coverage from approximately 12 noon live and exclusively for UK and Irish residents. Click here now to purchase a match pass for £10.