Alan Browne said it felt “really good” to be back after making his return from injury in the pre-season draw against Accrington Stanley.
The skipper was included from the start in what was his first appearance since May and he lasted the first 45 minutes before coming off, as planned, at the break.
Browney told iFollow PNE: “It felt really good. I’ve been desperate to get back ever since we finished last season. I knew it would be a bit of a road ahead for me, but I managed to get back more quickly than expected and it was just so good to be back out there with the boys.
“I’ve had a bit of trouble with my hip over the last couple of years and got a scan and got a bid of bad news really.
“I got some keyhole surgery done on it at the end of last season, that’s pretty much what’s kept me out, and I’ve just been doing my rehab ever since and, as I said, it’s a bit ahead of schedule so happy days.”
The 26-year-old has been working hard since the lads returned to Euxton for pre-season at the beginning of July, but the majority of that time has been spent either in the gym or running on the grass.
He managed to step up the intensity of his training during the pre-season camp in Scotland, though, joining in with his team-mates’ sessions.
Browney added: “I was desperate to just get a touch of the ball because I’ve been doing cardio in the gym while the boys were starting their pre-season.
“I was just sat in the gym looking out the window and just wanting to be there, so I did my best to get as fit as I possibly could and I was delighted to get a touch of the ball up in Scotland.”
The 45 minutes which the Irishman played finished goalless, with the game’s two strikes coming in the second half.
A trialist for PNE opened the scoring on 52 minutes, but Frankie McAvoy’s men were pegged back when Joe Pritchard found the back of the net 67 minutes in.
“It was alright,” said Browney about the game. “We could have done better as a team, I could have done better personally, but it’s my first game and it’s still pre-season for the boys.
“It’s just about building minutes and trying to get match fit, so we won’t worry about the performances just yet, but I think it could be a touch better.
“I think pre-season games are a tough one because for us it’s all about getting minutes, but I know the fans want to come to games and want to be excited by us and get us scoring goals, which we need to start doing because we can’t leave it too late going into the season.
“For us personally it’s about getting the minutes under our belt and that’s our main focus and we’ll worry about the results secondly.”
Watch the full interview with iFollow PNE at the top of the page.