Alan Browne thinks a realistic aim for Preston this season will be to try and better last term’s finish and make the play-off places.
The Irishman played 40 games in PNE’s midfield as they finished 11th in the Championship in 2015/16.
Pushing higher up the table is the target among the squad, with a collective eye on the top six.
“We probably surprised a lot of people outside the club with where we finished last season,” Browne told the Evening Post.
“As a team, we did very well against some tough opponents who had bigger budgets.
“We would like to do that again – the gaffer has brought in some new players to strengthen us.
“The main aim is to improve on last season, push maybe for a play-off place and see where that takes us.
“Our focus is on that as we put in the hard work in pre-season.
“People are saying that it is a much stronger division this season when you bear in mind the clubs who have been relegated.
“Newcastle, Aston Villa and Norwich are all big clubs and no doubt will be very strong.
“But look at our record last season, we did well against the big teams who were in the promotion places and took points off them.”
Browne and his PNE team-mates have been in Ireland this week as part of their build-up to the new season.
It is almost home from home for the midfielder, their Fota Island base not far from his native Cork.
Said Browne: “We are training about 10 or 15 minutes down the road from where I’m from – not too far. The facilities are excellent and it has been a good week.
“We have worked hard, got a lot of fitness under our belts and it is has been good to spend time together.
“All the lads came back in good shape after the summer and we have been able to push on quickly.”
Browne, 21, had hernia surgery in May and has come through the first fortnight of training with no ill effects from the operation.
It was an injury which only came on in the closing stages of last season, unlike team-mate Paul Gallagher who played most of the campaign with a hernia. The pair had their operations on the same day
“I’m not sure what caused the injury, I just felt a lump in the groin area and got it checked out by the doctor,” said Browne.
“It was diagnosed as a hernia and the club got me in for the operation to sort it out.
“I’m fully fit now and raring to go.
“It was nice to have a little break over the summer but we are well into the work now and are starting to get minutes under our belts.
“The result in the game against Fulham here earlier in the week was disappointing.
“It is more about fitness at the moment but you still want to try and win the games.
“We will be working to improve on things.”