Gally happy to be back in goal knack

Paul Gallagher has scored a dozen goals for Preston this season

Paul Gallagher has scored a dozen goals for Preston this season

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Paul Gallagher has found his eye for goal this season and hopes to help fire Preston to promotion over the coming weeks.

His dozen goals have put him second in the PNE scoring charts, two behind Joe Garner.

Eight of them have come since Christmas, the latest hitting the net in last Saturday’s 2-0 victory over Scunthorpe.

A regular supply of goals from different areas of the pitch is needed in all successful sides.

There is the obvious demand on Garner who is one of the best finishers at this level.

His 14 goals makes for a fine return considering the 10 weeks he spent on the sidelines.

Gallagher has scored his share from midfield and wide areas, as has seven-goal Paul Huntington.

Daniel Johnson is also showing that he knows where the net is with two goals in successive matches from midfield.

“At the beginning of the season I wasn’t particularly happy because I wasn’t chipping in with any goals,” said Gallagher.

“In my career I have regularly scored 10 a season and probably had a similar number of assists, whatever division I have played in.

“The goals have started to come quite regularly and if I could get 15 or so and Joe Garner gets some more, then we should be in a good position.

“Every credit to Hunts, who has got seven because you need your centre-halves scoring.

“When I was at Stoke and they got promoted, Ryan Shawcross and Leon Cort got 10 each from the back.

“The more players that you can get towards double figures, the better chance you have.

“This season I have had the belief that I can score from different positions – out left, out right, up front and in the middle, where I’m playing at the moment.

“Earlier on I was probably looking to pass the ball when in a good position, rather than shoot.

“Goals are part of my game but there are other things which can be just as important.

“I cleared one off the line in the Scunthorpe game and was back on the line when Sam Johnstone made that late save against Walsall in midweek.

“We all work hard for each other here – we are prepared to put our bodies on the line.

“Look at Tom Clarke in the Walsall game. He got that nasty bang on the head and ended up with a massive lump.

“He looked like he had been punched by Frank Bruno yet wanted to carry on!

“John Welsh is another player like that, he gets stuck in and gives you a platform to build from.”

It is a North West derby for PNE this weekend as they make the short trip to Oldham.

The hosts might have lost their manager Lee Johnson to Barnsley on Wednesday but Gallagher is under no illusions about the size of the task.

Said Gallagher: “Oldham are a good side – they play good football and are drilled in the right way.

“The games against them have always been tight so we will give them all the respect which they deserve.

“Their manager has gone to Barnsley but whether or not that affects them, we will just have to see.

“It can go two ways, either they turn up fired up for the caretaker manager or they are disappointed having lost Lee Johnson.

“The important thing is what we do. We go there positive and confident after some good results.

“We want to keep the good run going by winning as many matches as possible.”

North End go to Boundary Park having won four league games on the trot without conceding a goal.

That encouraging run has helped squeeze the gap in the automatic promotion race, MK Dons now only three points ahead and Swindon a single point.

Leaders Bristol City are in the distance with an eight-point lead over the Lilywhites.

Gallagher, said: “Four wins in a row is a good return, coming off the back of a bad January.

“In between was the FA Cup game against Manchester United in which we gave a very good account of ourselves.

“There was a lot of excitement in the build-up to that game and I think we have carried that into the league matches.

“We have to maintain this form, stretch the run and put more wins on the board.

“It is a good, experienced squad we have here which should be capable of doing that.

“When we were talking in the dressing room recently, as an experienced player I was telling the lads not to hold anything back.

“If it is a case of giving everything and then blowing up after 70 minutes, then there are good players on the bench to come on and replace you.

“There is no point worrying about having another game in three days – the important thing is the next one and giving your all in that.

“There are players on the bench and sat in the stand who are itching to play.

“If you are in the team, it is up to you to play well and keep your place.

“The aim of everyone at the club is to get promoted this season. It would be a massive achievement if we did that, probably my biggest achievement in the game.

“Playing for Scotland was a big achievement.

“When Stoke got promoted I only played 10 games and I didn’t play any for Leicester when they went up last year.”