Exclusive Marnick Vermijl PNE column

'I cannot wait to watch Belgium 
in the summer'
'I cannot wait to watch Belgium in the summer'
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When the season ends, the focus will turn to international football and the European Championships in France.

My country Belgium are among the favourites and are in a group with the Republic of Ireland, Italy and Sweden.

How they progress might well depend on the fitness of some of the key players.

Vincent Kompany has not played many games for Manchester City this season because of an injury.

Thomas Vermaelen has not been playing for Barcelona, while Jan Vertonghen is only just back in the team at Tottenham.

They are three important defenders and to have them fully fit would be a big boost.

The Belgium squad has a lot of talented players, many of them have been together for five or six years now.

It is a good generation and it would be wonderful to see them do well this summer.

I have played international football for Belgium up to Under-21s level.

Two years ago, I was on stand-by for the senior Belgium squad for the World Cup in Brazil but I wasn’t needed.

In the Under-21s, one of my team-mates was Divock Origi who has been scoring goals for Liverpool lately.

The brothers of Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku were also in the squad.

Cheering Belgium is for the summer, before then there are five big games to play for Preston, the first of which is against MK Dons this weekend.

We go into the game on the back of the defeats to Fulham and Middlesbrough which I thought we were unlucky in.

I scored against Fulham and then almost did at Middlesbrough last week.

For that chance, I just ran on to the ball and hit it as hard as I could.

The Middlesbrough keeper responded very well to make the save.

I thought it was going in because I struck it so well.

Getting into shooting positions is something I will always try and do during games, I see that as part of my role as a right-back or wing-back.

I have got two goals for Preston so far, against Watford earlier in the season and then the one in the Fulham game.

There was my shot at Bolton which Eoin Doyle got the last touch to.

Eoin claimed that one – I didn’t mind because the important thing was that we won the game.

I do have a powerful shot and the other lads call me ‘The Hammer’.

At the end of every training session we do some finishing practice and I’ve hit the ball hard then.

Just looking back to last week at Middesbrough, I thought we deserved a draw.

We started the first half really well but after they scored, we struggled until half-time.

Middlesbrough pressed us well and we dropped deeper and deeper.

The second half was much better and we gave it a good go.

Throughout the game we went with two up front which kept us pushing on.

As well as my shot, there was the chance for Eoin which got cleared off the line.

It is MK Dons next, a team who are in need of the points at the bottom end of the table.

MK Dons came up with us last season and it can be very difficult for newly-promoted clubs.

That shows how well we have done, it has been an extremely good season in what is a hard division.

I have enjoyed my time on loan here and it has not finished yet, so there is plenty to concentrate on.

Until the summer, I cannot think about what will happen next – that is up to others.