Exclusive Alex Baptiste PNE column

'I'd love to come back next season'
'I'd love to come back next season'
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There are mixed feelings on my part when I look back on the season.

From a personal point of view, it could have been better because I suffered the injury to my knee which kept me out for three months.

But as a team, I think we have done really well and to have been in with a chance of making the play-offs until the last five or six games, was quite an achievement.

Our form has petered 
out of late which we didn’t want but I honestly think there is loads to build on next season.

There are a lot of good young players coming through and those lads will have learned so much over the last nine or 10 months.

The season they’ve just put under their belts will stand them in good stead.

It is an exciting group of players with a core of young lads who I’m sure can push for the play-offs next season.

The improvement in our fortunes since September is there for all to see.

I think we were second bottom when I arrived on loan at the end of August.

Myself and Aiden McGeady arrived on the same day and it has been great to have been part of our rise up the division.

Who knows where we could have been had a few more points been put on the board earlier in the season?

It is irrelevant now but it would have been interesting to see where a better start would have got us.

In terms of chasing a place in the play-offs, we were always playing catch-up to some extent.

We did not have too much room for error at the end and that was highlighted when we hit that bad spell of 
form.

Had we had a couple more wins in the bank, it could have given us some breathing space when a couple of defeats came along.

It is what it is, and there is plenty to look forward to next season.

Lads like Ben Pearson, Tom Barkhuizen, Jordan Hugill and Callum Robinson have got games under their belts at this level.

For some of these young lads, next season will be their third in the Championship and they will benefit from that experience.

When you have a core of talented younger lads, mixed in with some experience, it is a good blend to have.

I’m 100% interested in coming back to North End next season.

Like any player who is on loan, the decision is out of my hands to a large extent.

I don’t really know what the situation at Middlesbrough will be this summer.

At the moment they are battling against relegation from the Premier League and their season runs for two weeks longer than ours.

You would say that as it stands, it looks like they are going down although they’ve had two great results against Sunderland and Manchester City.

Obviously the manager left the other month, so Boro have that to look at during the summer.

I don’t know if they will give it Steve Agnew after his time as caretaker boss or go for a new face.

A new manager might want a complete clear-out, 
so we will have to see what 
happens.

I honestly don’t expect anything to be decided until the middle of June, once the dust has settled and there has been a time for a bit of reflection.

It is usually as pre-season approaches that things begin to fall into place.

We have still get one more game to concentrate on here, with the trip to Wolves on Sunday.

Having not had too much football in the last few months, any chance to play is welcome.

Hopefully, we can finish on a winning note and beat last year’s points total, which would be good to take into the summer.

Looking at my season, it has been one of contrasting halves I suppose.

To start with, I played every game I was available for and really enjoyed that.

Then in January, the knee injury stopped me in my tracks.

The only positive thing I took from it was that I wasn’t out for as long as was first feared.

When I got the injury in a training session ahead of the Arsenal FA Cup game, I thought I had done my cruciate ligament, it felt like a bad one.

I’d never had a knee injury before and I didn’t seem to have any control of that leg.

Thankfully it was not the cruciate and I was out for three months.

It was still a tough time but to be back playing before the end of the season was a bonus compared to how it might have been.