Maxwell: PNE are on the up

Chris Maxwell has started PNE's last three games

Chris Maxwell has started PNE's last three games

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Goalkeeper Chris Maxwell is confident that Preston are moving in the right direction after their uncertain start to the season.

The Lilywhites go into Saturday’s clash with Aston Villa at Deepdale unbeaten in the last three games.

Wins against Bournemouth and Wigan, then the midweek draw at Birmingham, followed the 5-0 defeat at Brentford a fortnight ago.

Maxwell told the Evening Post: “There is certainly something growing among the lads here.

“I feel as if the fans can almost sense that too.

“The Brentford game was perhaps a bit of an eye-opener and a turning point.

“I wasn’t here last season and didn’t see the games but I believe we were very hard to beat and very strong.

“Maybe what happened at Brentford showed that if you take your eye off the ball, you will get punished at this level.

“It has been a fantastic response since, with the win at Bournemouth, then beating Wigan here and the draw against Birmingham the other night.

“I genuinely believe that this club has what it takes to really push on.

“If we keep our foot on the gas, we can do really well.”

Maxwell, 26, is set to face Villa after replacing Anders Lindegaard between the posts for the last three games.

He was one of 10 planned changes to the side between the Brentford and Bournemouth matches.

After an impressive display in the 3-2 victory over the Cherries in the League Cup, the Welshman kept his place to face Wigan in the Championship – his league debut for PNE.

A clean sheet in that one saw him continue in the 2-2 draw with Birmingham.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed the last few games,” said Maxwell.

“The results have been good, which is the main thing and I do feel at home.

“We have got a big squad here and the manager always said that everyone would get their chance.

“It is a competitive environment which every manager and player in football wants.

“Last week, it was fantastic for me to get put into the team against Wigan in the league after playing in a couple of the cup games.”

Saturday afternoon’s visit of Villa to Deepdale is the first league meeting between the clubs since January 1974.

More than 5,500 Villa fans are making the trip, the club having sold out their allocation a few weeks ago.

When the fixture list came out in the summer, the Villa game was one of the stand-out matches.

Maxwell said: “During the week I was chatting with one of the lads about the game and about what a massive club Aston Villa are.

“At the same time, I feel that we have got a very good team, a really hard-working and organised one.

“Hopefully it will be a good game and we can get a result.”