Bark’s the top dog

Tom Barkhuizen picks up his award as the Championship player of the month for March
Tom Barkhuizen picks up his award as the Championship player of the month for March
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Preston North End made it an awards double as Tom Barkhuizen was named the Championship player of the month for March.

The Lilywhites attacker was honoured for scoring five goals in his first four starts for the club and follows hot on the heels of Aiden McGeady winning the February gong.

It marks a rapid rise for the 23-year-old who officially joined from Morecambe in January, the flying forward admitting he nearly packed it all in when cast aside by Blackpool back in 2015.

“It’s pretty well documented that I wasn’t happy then,” said Barkhuizen.

“I was thinking about quitting football and I was grateful to Morecambe for taking a chance on me.

“I got my confidence back and at the moment I’ve just got to ride the wave because I know there will be ups and downs in my career.

“You’ve got to enjoy the moments when you are having a real golden spell like I am at the moment.

“It’s been a really good, 
especially in front of goal.

“Everything just seems to have come together.

“If someone would have said I’d score five in my first four starts I would have snapped their hand off.

“If I can keep it up for the final six games then hopefully it can help with a big push for the play-offs.”

There has been no let-up in April, Barkhuizen scoring the opener in the 5-0 win over Bristol City on Tuesday night before laying on the fourth for Callum Robinson when he could have easily shot himself.

“It was nice to get on the scoresheet again and in the second half I thought we were absolutely brilliant,” he said.

“At times it was just a pleasure to play with the lads who were on the pitch at the time.

“As soon as I saw Robbo I knew I was going to pass. 
I think I showed I’m not a 
selfish player and I’ve got that side to my game and I do want to chip in with my assists as well.”

The result leaves PNE five points shy of the play-offs ahead of the trip to Leeds United on Saturday.

“We’re realistic,” said Barkhuizen.

“We know it’s going to be really tough but the pressure that other teams are playing under compared to us is a different animal.

“I’m sure our fans look at it and think we’ve had a good season whereas Leeds and Sheffield Wednesday, who’ve had a bit of a wobble, are 
looking at us and Fulham and even Derby, who have crept back into it.

“We’ve got nothing to lose, we can go for it in every game.

“We’re going to Leeds and there’ll be massive pressure on them to solidify their position in the top six but it wouldn’t surprise me if we go there and turn them over.”