Preston North End’s interim head coach Frankie McAvoy is hoping that Saturday is the last time the side ever plays inside Deepdale without supporters.
Speaking to iFollow PNE ahead of the final home game of the 2020/21 campaign, played in its entirety behind closed doors for home games, the Scot admitted that the fans had been a big miss.
“We miss them – the players and the coaching staff,” he said. “Football is not the same without supporters, but we have had a Covid-19 issue to deal with, not just here, but around the world.
“It has been damaging, with so many people losing their lives and people losing their loved ones.
“What we want is the supporters back, but in a safe environment, which is the most important thing.
“I speak on behalf of the backroom team and the players and we are truly grateful of the support the fans give us. Even when it has not been easy; eight games ago we were in a precarious position where we might have seen ourselves dropping and been in a relegation dog fight, but thankfully that has not been the case and we have been able to secure ourselves next season in the Championship.
“Thanks to everyone; stick with the players – they need your support, now, more than ever. We miss the fans and I know they are always there for us and hopefully we can deliver on Saturday for them.”
The opponents, for this last game at Deepdale, have already secured a top six spot and Frankie was full of praise to Barnsley and their head coach.
“Fantastic credit needs to go to Valerian and his team at Barnsley, they have done remarkably well. To finish in the top six with two games to go is no mean feat, so well done to them,” he continued.
“It is going to be a tough game on Saturday, but we will set up to try and win the game, as we have done in the games previous. It will be another tough one, but hopefully the boys will do everything they can.
“We had a task with eight games to go to get as many points as we could, to win as many games as we could and see where we could finish in the league and they have still got that hunger and desire to do that, even though we have established ourselves in the Championship for next season.”
His own side have become tough to break down, with four clean sheets in his six games in charge, including the last three in a row and he believes this gives them a solid platform to build from.
“The defenders and goalkeepers seem to thrive on clean sheets and they are important for confidence as well.
“And I said at the start of this period that we just needed to try and get some goals, create more goalscoring opportunities and then take them and we have done that.
“Just reflecting on the game at the weekend, there wasn’t a great number of chances in it, but we looked the most threatening team and thankfully we got the goal.
“Working from good solid clean sheets gives us an opportunity to see where we can go from there,” he added.
There is loads more from Frankie in the video at the top of the page, as he discusses more on Barnsley, the game at Oakwell in December, their attacking threats and their approach to the game – just click on the video to watch the full interview.
This weekend’s commentary team sees former PNE forward Brett Ormerod joining Jonathan Breeze for full match coverage from 2.30pm. You can watch live and exclusively on iFollow PNE. Click here now to sign up and a match pass for £10.