Bailey out to put things Wright at Wembley

Bailey Wright sitting in the stand at Deepdale during Monday's Press day

Bailey Wright sitting in the stand at Deepdale during Monday's Press day

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Should Preston secure promotion to the Championship on Sunday, it will signal the end of a very personal crusade by Bailey Wright.

The Australian-born central defender –who arrived at the club in the summer 2009 as a trainee – is the only remaining member of the North End squad which suffered relegation to League One in 2011.

Just 18-years-old back then, Wright featured in only a handful of games during that disastrous campaign but still harbours a heavy sense of burden at the way it ended.

An unused substitute in the 1-0 defeat to Cardiff City at Deepdale which confirmed North End’s demise, Wright still remembers the pain and despair at the final whistle.

Since that day, he has been determined to help the club return to the Championship.

It may have taken four long years but Wright – now aged 22 – is just 90 minutes away from banishing the memory of relegation.

Victory over Swindon Town at Wembley in the play-off final on Sunday will seal North End’s position back in the second tier of English football – a place where many people think they rightfully belong.

“I have been at this club six years and I can still remember the feeling of when we got relegated,” said Wright.

“I did not really play a massive part during that season, but it still felt like I was very responsible for what happened.

“So being able to change that and put things right with a chance at Wembley is massive for me.”

It has certainly been an amazing few years for Wright – who hails from the city of Melbourne – since moving to the North West of England as a teenager.

After working his way into the first-team squad at Preston, his days at the club looked numbered when previous boss Graham 
Westley told him he was free to leave in the summer of 
2012.

Thankfully for Wright, Westley had a change of heart and offered him fresh terms to remain at Deepdale.

Since then he has gone on to establish himself in the heart of PNE’s defence.

His good performances caught the attention of national manager Ange Postecoglou and last 
summer was called up by Australia for the World Cup in Brazil.

Unfortunately, he did not make an appearance for the Socceroos in South America.

But now he has got the chance to fulfil another childhood ambition by walking out at Wembley Stadium this weekend.

“I’ve had some really good experiences in football, some real highs – and 
some lows,” said Wright, who is likely to come up 
against fellow Australia international Massimo Luongo on Sunday.

“The experiences I have had over the last year or two have definitely helped me into becoming a better player and have a better understanding of the game.

“I have come across some good challenges and Sunday will be no different.

“If we win at Wembley, it will be the biggest achievement of my career so far.

“You hear other players talk and they say nothing beats a promotion.

“A few of the boys in the squad have played at Wembley and won a play-off final and they say it’s the best feeling.

“I’ve yet to experience anything like that so I’m really looking forward to it.

“I think it is important to enjoy the occasion, but I think you can only really enjoy it if you win.

“Swindon will be tough. They are an attacking team with an attractive style.

“I think they shocked a few teams in the first part of the season.

“They are a young team and play with no fear sometimes.”

Having made more than 90 appearances over the previous two campaigns, Wright found himself on the sidelines in the early part of the season after being struck down by groin problem.

He tried to battle on with the injury but with his performances being affected, it was decided that he should go under the surgeon’s knife.

It caused him to miss three months of the season and when he returned he had to bide his time before winning a recall, due to the excellent form of Paul Huntington and Tom Clarke.

Over the final few months of the season, he has enjoyed a run of starts and he feels that he is back to his best.

He said: “I’m glad I got the operation done because if I hadn’t, I would not have been able to play the part that I am playing now.

“It’s nice to be feeling back to your normal self 
and enjoying my football again.”