Declan Rudd cannot wait to play his first game in six months on Saturday, especially given the added bonus that supporters are able to attend.
The goalkeeper has not featured for PNE since the beginning of January due to a serious knee injury, but has been able to take part in all the training sessions so far in pre-season.
He will be hoping to play a part on Saturday afternoon as North End play their first friendly of the year, in front of 1,300 supporters against Bamber Bridge at the Sir Tom Finney Stadium.
Speaking to iFollow PNE, Dec said: “It’s the perfect way to get back into it. You get straight back into getting that adrenaline rush and hearing the fans singing.
“Even on away games when the home team’s sort of giving you abuse, that seems to always kick you on a little bit more so I’ve missed all those little things.
“Interaction with the crowds in games and stuff like that, it’s something that’s been really missed in the game from the bottom level to the top. We’ve seen the difference it’s made in the Euros with fans being in the stadiums, and probably the smaller teams have absolutely thrived off it and that’s why you’ve seen them go further than what they usually would have.
“It just makes the occasion that bit more special going out there, especially when you get a win and a good performance and you walk off and see all the smiles on the faces. It’s what football’s all about; it’s about the fans.”
This same stage at the beginning of last season was a frustrating one for Dec, too, as a separate injury disrupted his preparations for the 2020/21 campaign.
He’s unsurprisingly wishing to make it through this period unscathed ahead of the beginning of the Championship season, given the frustration that comes with being on the sidelines.
“It’s the worst thing for a player,” he added. “You can accept not being involved if it’s been down to your own performances and you’ve not been playing well enough and you get dropped. That’s your own sort of thing, you’ve got to deal with it.
“But when you get an injury, that takes it all away from you and there’s nothing you can do about it. It’s tough. Sitting and watching it is sometimes the worst thing you can do because you wish you were out there and it feels a lot worse, but hopefully I’ve got through that now and I can just enjoy being back out there.”
Dec had, towards the very end of the last campaign, began training again with his fellow goalkeepers, but not to the level he has this pre-season.
Almost a week in since the squad's return to training last Thursday, Dec has been working hard with goalkeeping coach Mike Pollitt and he's just glad to be back out there, even though he's being put through his paces.
He said: “It’s good. I wouldn’t say I’m enjoying it, it’s pretty tough! But it’s nice to be back out training, it’s been a long time stuck in the gym watching the lads outside doing what we should be doing so it’s nice to be back out.
“It still wasn’t quite right at the end of last season so it was still sort of swelling up and didn’t feel 100 per cent, so the summer gave me a bit of time to get everything right and since we’ve been back, touch wood, it’s all gone well so far so I’m feeling good.”
Watch the full interview from Dec on iFollow PNE, as he discusses Daniel Iversen, more on the return of supporters and his thoughts ahead of England’s semi-final tie tomorrow evening.