PNE looking to build one fine first season in Championship – Welsh

John Welsh

John Welsh

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John Welsh is confident that Preston North End can carry the momentum of last season’s strong performance in the Championship into the new campaign.

The build-up to 2016/17 starts for PNE on Thursday when the squad report back to Springfields for pre-season training.

Awaiting the players is more than five weeks hard graft before the campaign starts with a clash against Reading at the Madejski Stadium on August 6.

Midfielder Welsh believes the Lilywhites have the capability of building on last term, the determination to maintain the season-on-season improvement seen in recent years.

“We did well last season, it was a good one,” Welsh told the Evening Post.

“Yes, we didn’t do too well in the first 10-15 games or so – we were just missing something.

“We found those things we were missing after a little while and really pushed on.

“As a squad, we progressed to the stage where with seven or eight games of the season to go, we still had a chance of the play-offs.

“We seemed to get better as the season went on, we got more confident and realised we could compete in the division.

“That is something we want to build on in the season ahead, we are more than capable of holding our own again and pushing on.

“Every season we have managed to improve and that is the aim again.

“We will be working hard when we come back for training to make sure we are the best shape possible to start the season.”

Welsh, 32, has his part to play at North End in the coming season.

Although he played a lesser role as last season went on, his experience will still be important – so too the shielding role he likes to play.

With no emergency loan system, PNE will need to carry a slightly bigger squad in order to have sufficient cover between transfer windows.

In the last couple of weeks, Welsh has been enjoying watching Euro 2016.

He said: “It has been a good tournament to watch.

“Some of the smaller countries have impressed me, Wales were a breath of fresh air, while Hungary and Iceland have done very well.

“England’s first job was to qualify for the knockout stages which they have done.

“I would have loved to have seen them finish top of the group but it wasn’t to be.

“They dominated the three group games and it was just in the final third that they couldn’t quite get it right.

“There have been some very good performances from midfielders which is obviously of special interest to me.

“When you look at the group games, there haven’t been too many strikers catching the eye and scoring goals.

“Midfielders have tended to get hold of a game and play big parts. I’m looking forward to the knockout stages now.”