Alan Browne knows he has to keep on his toes to stay in the Preston midfield amid strong competition for places.
The engine room is probably the best-staffed area of the PNE squad, Browne one of six players vying for a place.
He has been in possession of the shirt for three of the last four games – the Irishman was rested at Bournemouth – and hopes to get the nod to play against Birmingham City this evening (7.45pm).
For last Friday’s victory over Wigan, Browne was paired with Paul Gallagher in the centre of midfield.
Later in the game, Daniel Johnson and Ben Pearson joined the fray – the pair being two of the others battling for a midfield spot.
Further competition was on the bench in the shape of Ben Pringle, with John Welsh not making Friday night’s squad after featuring for 120 minutes against Bournemouth three nights earlier.
You could also throw Liam Grimshaw’s name into the mix, the East Lancashire lad primarily a midfielder but used mainly as a right-back in the early weeks of the campaign.
Browne said: “The gaffer could pick any two or three of us in midfield.
“There’s a lot of competition and we all want to play.
“I will do my best to keep myself in the team because I know there are a few boys breathing down my neck who deserve a chance.
“The gaffer made changes at Bournemouth last week and the boys who came in did fantastically well.
“Whoever goes into the team, it is all about trying to get the win and doing your best for the team.”
Browne and Gallagher were rather overworked in midfield against Wigan.
After going 1-0 up early on through a Jordan Hugill goal, North End were under pressure for long spells.
Changing systems to put an extra man in midfield with 20 minutes left, helped them see the game through to a successful conclusion.
Looking back on Friday’s win, Browne said: “We were on the back foot for quite a lot of the game but it was like the old us, being able to grind out the result.
“For all the possession Wigan had, they didn’t create too many clear-cut chances.
“Teams can have as much possession as they want but it is about scoring goals to get you the win.
“It is all well and good having the ball for most of the time but if you don’t score, what use is that?
“The win against Wigan came on the back of that great victory at Bournemouth.
“Those two results have helped after what happened at Brentford.
“We have put that one to bed now and bounced back.
“Hopefully we can keep the form going and get another good result at Birmingham.”
North End’s rocky start to this season – they have taken nine points from the opening nine league matches – actually betters last year’s opening.
At the same stage last season, they had seven points under their belt. Those points were collected with a win and four draws – this year it has been three victories.
Said Browne: “It actually doesn’t feel like we are better off points-wise than we were last season.
“We have won more games this time but not had any draws, we have lost games which we should have drawn.”
Tonight’s visit to the West Midlands is Preston’s sixth game in a little more than a fortnight.
The busy schedule continues with the visit of Aston Villa to Deepdale on Saturday, before the international break offers a two-week respite.
Browne will be joining-up with the Republic of Ireland Under-21s in that time though, the games coming thick and fast for him.
“The last few weeks have flown by to be honest,” said Browne. “It is a case of playing a game, resting, training and then playing again.
“At times that can be tough on the legs but we are a pretty fit squad and did a lot of work in pre-season to help see us through schedules like this.
“It should be a good game at Birmingham – they have started the season well.
“I scored at their ground when we played them towards the end of last season and it would be nice to do that again.
“Away games are always tough but we have done well on the road over the last few seasons. If we can get something at Birmingham, we can take that into another big game at the weekend.
“Getting some momentum can help carry us up the table and away from where we are at the moment.”