PNE midfielder cannot wait for kick-off

Big winner: John Welsh lifts the PNE Player of the Year award
Big winner: John Welsh lifts the PNE Player of the Year award
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John Welsh is confident that ‘exciting times’ are ahead for Preston North End if they can carry the momentum of last season’s strong finish into the new campaign.

North End collected 24 points from their last 15 games to finish in mid-table after their flirt with relegation.

That healthy points haul has offered plenty of encouragement to midfielder Welsh, who was voted the club’s Player of the Year.

Welsh is currently enjoying the early stages of the summer break but admits it will not be long before he is itching to get back into training.

He told the Evening Post: “Next season could be exciting and the key was finishing this one well.

“Had we not finished that way, there might not have been the excitement going into next season.

“People will come and go during the summer and I’m sure the club are looking at bringing some good players in.

“I’m sure that exciting times are ahead for Preston, the fans and the players.

“Last season was a bit of a mixed bag really.

“I came here to win trophies and wanted to get promotion, unfortunately it didn’t work out that way.

“But I think we have a really good chance next season. I can’t wait to be back in training although it’s nice to be having a rest at the moment after a physically tough season.

“The games and training take their toll on your body, and you need a couple of weeks where you switch off.

“But it will soon be time when the boredom sets in and you start doing some stuff at the gym to begin ticking over again.

“Once you get to that stage, you’re itching to get back into full training.”

Welsh, 29, was proud as punch to win both the Player of the Year and Players’ Player awards in his first season at Deepdale.

And the trophies have been doing the rounds of family members over the last week or so.

Said Welsh: “I think I was 10 and playing Sunday League when I last won a player of the year award, never mind in my professional career.

“It was a really proud moment and I milked it a bit.

“The kids have had their pictures taken with the trophies and I’ve been to my mum’s with it!

“I was surprised I won it because there are some good players here.

“Getting the Players’ Player of the Year award was an honour too – it’s nice to get recognition from your peers and I’m grateful for that.”

Meanwhile, a football memorabilia online auction to raise money for the GEM Appeal – which supports awareness of genetic disorder PKU – is running at the moment.

Signed shirts from a number of clubs are being auctioned at