Ryan Ledson has already earmarked the Lancashire derby against Blackpool following the release of the 2021/22 Championship fixtures.
Last season’s Player of the Year winner has been at Deepdale since 2018, so has taken part in local affairs against the likes of Blackburn Rovers and Bolton Wanderers in recent years, but he’s never had the chance to play in the West Lancashire derby.
Following Blackpool’s promotion at the end of last season, the two are now readying to face each other in the upcoming campaign, with PNE set to travel to Bloomfield Road on 23rd October before the reverse fixture on 19th March.
Speaking to PNE.Com, Ryan said: “It’s the first one you look out for; they’re the games you want to play in. You want to play in the derbies obviously to get one over on your rivals. I know we play Blackburn and obviously that’s a tough rival game, but we know that Blackpool’s the big one.
“I love playing in them sort of games. If you can’t get yourself up for Blackpool then there’s no point even playing, is there? The lads will be ready to show them what the Championship’s all about, obviously they were in League One so I’m sure we’ll let them know what we’re all about.
“You’d like to think that by the time we play, everything will be back to normal we hope and we can get as many fans as we can in Deepdale. With the Bloomfield Road one in October, if away fans are allowed, we’d have a sell out behind that goal so that’d be a good occasion too.”
While it’s still unconfirmed what kind of numbers will be able to attend football matches this season, Ryan cannot wait to see fans back inside stadia, and Deepdale has an early chance to welcome supporters home on the opening day of the season against Hull City.
“It’ll be great for everyone to get back in there,” added Ryan. “I’m sure that first home game on the first day of the season will be a great atmosphere.
“It’ll be massive having them back. I think we’ll have to get used to playing in front of fans again, it’s been that long. The noise the fans make and the atmosphere gets you right into the game. You can’t beat it.
“It gives the fans something to look forward to instead of shouting at the tele. They can come and make as much noise as they want at Deepdale, and it’s a good game with Hull at home, so hopefully we can get three points and start it off properly.
“They’ve only been out the division for a year so they’ll be a decent side. They’ll sign a good few players, but let’s hope that our quality and the players we sign will show through.”
North End will be on home soil on Boxing Day for the first time since 2018 when they welcome Sheffield United to Deepdale, and that’s something Ryan is thankful for at Christmas time.
“Especially for the lads with kids, I feel like that’s a big thing,” he said. “It means you get to spend time with your families and obviously at that time of the year that’s the most important thing, so that’s definitely one you look out for and at least the lads with kids will be able to spend most of the day with their little ones.
“Stoke on New Year’s Day is a standout, too. Stoke’s always a good one with the fans behind the goal. I’m looking forward to going back to Sheffield United, that’s always a good one. It’s a great ground, historic team, so I’m looking to it. I'm looking forward to getting back in on Thursday and seeing all the lads as well.”