When Middlesbrough said they were happy for me to go out on loan to Preston, I must admit it did take me a little by surprise.
I made a lot of appearances last season for Boro and played quite a major part in our run to the play-off final, where we unfortunately missed out on promotion to the Premier League, losing 2-0 to Norwich City at Wembley.
With the amount of football I got last year, I felt like I deserved to be playing more regularly this season, but that’s the way football goes sometimes.
I did not really want to be sitting on the bench after all the progress I made last season – I wanted to continue that.
I always want to play, so if it meant coming out on loan then I was more than happy to do that.
Since I arrived at Preston a couple of months ago, I’ve really enjoyed myself.
Every day you get closer to the lads – the manager and his staff have been brilliant with me.
I’m really beginning to feel settled and part of the team now.
My original loan deal was for three months and runs out after the Rotherham game at Deepdale on January 2.
Obviously with the Christmas period coming up, there are quite a lot of games still to come and so by the end of it, I could have played around 15 or 16 games for Preston, which is really good.
What will happen after that, I don’t really know. It’s a tough one. Personally, I still feel I am good enough to play a part for Middlesbrough.
But at the same time I am feeling more and more at home at Preston.
We’ll just have to see how it all pans out because a lot can happen between now and January 2.
There are a lot of games to be played – teams can get injuries and suspensions.
I am just going to wait until then – I don’t want to be making promises to people now and then things fall through.
To be honest I’m not really thinking about what will happen – all my concentration is on the next month and helping Preston win as many games as possible.
I will just let the two clubs have a chat and see what they want to do – then I’ll be able to make the right decision for me.
What I can see since arriving at Preston is that this team has the quality to be much higher up the table than it is.
The Championship is a very difficult league, but it’s a strange league.
You often see teams from mid-table or lower going on unbeaten runs over the second half of the season and sneaking into the play-offs.
I don’t think Preston are too far away from that.
We’ve shown recently we are capable of picking up results and keeping clean sheets.
If we can get people like Jermaine Beckford fit, maybe he will be the difference in us turning some of these draws into wins.
And before you know it, you might have won four or five games on the bounce and you’re edging towards those play-off places.
We have got a very difficult derby game this weekend at Burnley.
Turf Moor is a tough place to go, but we’ve shown in our performances at Brighton, Charlton, QPR and Fulham that we are more than capable of going there on Saturday and picking up a result.
We need to defend well and take our chances – Burnley are good but I don’t think they’ve been firing on all cylinders this season – certainly not by their own high standards.
The one player we will have to pay close attention to is Andre Gray, who is Burnley’s main threat. He’s the leading goalscorer in the division and is on fire at the minute.
If you give him time and space, especially in the box, he will punish you, but if we defend like we have done recently then I think we can keep him quiet.
That will be the main aim of the defence and then it’s up to our attackers to try to hurt them.
It would be nice to open my goalscoring account for Preston against Burnley – I do have previous experience of netting against the Clarets.
I once scored a 25-yard wonder goal against Burnley for Boro as a 19-year-old.
We won 3-2 at the Riverside that day and I remember the goal vividly – I would rate it the best of my career so far. Hopefully if I get a chance on Saturday, I can take it because I’ve gone 10 games without a goal and I feel I should have at least one under my belt by now.
Obviously the fact that I’ve played wing-back in a lot of games has meant that I’ve had more defensive work to do.
Although I prefer to play as a left winger and attack more, because I feel that’s more my game, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed playing at left wing-back.
It is a different role but playing there helps me improve different aspects of my game.
The way we play, the wing-backs get wide and high up the pitch and I see a lot of the ball.
I feel quite pleased that I have contributed to our defensive record over the last eight games.
We have only conceded three goals – two of them were from set-plays and the other was a lucky break.
No team has managed to break us down or play around us and that gives us confidence going forward.
The last seven or eight games have proved that we can defend, now it’s just a case of being more ruthless in attack, like we were in the 3-0 win at Charlton.
We got the first goal and went on to get the second and third one.
Unfortunately, we were not able to get that all-important second goal in the 1-1 draw at Fulham, but we have got a solid platform to build from for the rest of the season.