Alan Browne feels that, with the right additions this summer, there is “no reason” why Preston North End can’t compete at the top end of the Championship next season.
The Lilywhites finished 13th in the 2021/22 campaign, signing out with a 4-1 victory over Middlesbrough at Deepdale, and the club captain spoke to iFollow PNE following the victory.
He has high hopes for the upcoming season, but realises the importance of signing adequate replacements for the outgoings, including loan players returning to their parent clubs.
Alan said: “It'll be interesting to see who we bring in to replace the boys we lose.
“The boys who have been on loan have obviously been our best players, they’ve been fantastic, and I think the signings for next season are important.
“As you’ve seen today, the quality’s there throughout the team and if we can get everyone to stick together and work towards the right direction then there’s no reason why we can’t be up there this time next season.”
The performance in the victory over Middlesbrough was widely considered as one of the best of the campaign, dominating the match against the Play-Off pushing side.
While the Irish international was understandably very happy about his side’s display, there was a sense of frustration that they haven't produced more of the same over the course of the season.
He added: “It was pleasing, but it’s a hard one to take when you know performances like that are within the team and we haven’t done that all season.
“We’ve left it ‘til the last game of the season to churn out a performance and a result like that.
“It was obviously brilliant to finish on that note, especially Hunty [Paul Huntington] coming on for his last few minutes, to give him a good send off with a good result, but I think we need to make those kind of performances more consistent going forward.
“Going into next season we lose a few players, but for the boys who do remain here that’s what the expectations will be.”
As mentioned by the skipper, last Saturday was an opportunity for Paul Huntington to get his final minutes as a Preston North End player – coming on as an 80th-minute substitute.
He received a deservedly fantastic reception from the Deepdale crowd for his ten-year service to the club, and Browne has been there himself for the majority of the last decade.
“He's been fantastic,” Alan said about Huntington. “He’s been a stalwart in the Preston team for some time now.
“Over the years he’s been absolutely brilliant and he loves the club to bits. You can see that the fans love him as well.
“He’s a proper player, a proper person and a club legend in my opinion. He’s been fantastic over the years for the young boys coming through, putting an arm around them, getting through games.
“He never sulks, an experienced pro like that might go knocking on the manager’s door or whatever, but Hunty just gets on with it and gives his all when called upon.
“He’s done that over the years and it’s no surprise that he’s had the career that he’s had so far.
“We wish him all the best going forward and he’ll definitely be remembered around these parts for a long time.”
Huntington was presented with a commemorative shield after the Middlesbrough game, and the Player of the Year awards also took place on the pitch.
Browne was the recipient of the Community Player of the Year award, as selected by Preston North End Community and Education Trust.
The club captain has done various work in the community, but was chosen mainly for his efforts with TippyToes BabyBank, a charity to which he donated children’s clothing and storage space.
“I didn’t really expect it to be honest,” Alan reacted. “I’ve done a few bits here and there, and then with TippyToes I did quite a bit of work.
“But I was clapping there [during the awards] because I didn’t hear my name! I was just looking around, but it’s obviously a great honour for me and it means a lot.
“I think it’s important to set an example, especially with loan players coming in and young players coming up, they might not have experienced it before, but you want to engage with the community and with the fans as well.
“That’s what makes this club so special, everyone tries to get involved in the community and do their bit.”
Watch the skipper's full interview on iFollow PNE above.