Chris Maxwell knows exactly what he wants.
Driven and determined, the words ‘Premier League’ roll off his tongue as he takes time away from North End’s annual visit to the Royal Preston Hospital to reflect on the season so far.
The goalkeeper’s summer move from Fleetwood seems like a long time ago now, such is the impact he has made between the sticks at Deepdale.
Initially number two to the more established Anders Lindegaard, the Welshman has not looked back since getting his chance in the EFL Cup win at Bournemouth back in September.
Now with North End having lost just two of their last 14 in the Championship, what was quiet confidence about their prospects this season is increasing in volume, especially when you speak to Maxwell.
“We’ve done really well up until now,” said the 26-year-old.
“I can guarantee if you ask any of the lads or the gaffer we’re not happy with 11th, though.
“We’re looking upwards and pushing on and winning the next game and the game after that and the game after that.
“I said when I first signed for the club I wanted to play in the Premier League, whether it’s in the first year of my contract or third year of my contract.
“I want to play in the Premier League and I want to play in the Premier League with Preston.
“Seeing some of the recruitment that’s gone on over the summer and also ahead of January they all seem to be young, exciting players.
“Some of the really good players here signing three-year contracts means we’ve got a large base of players on long-term contracts too.
“The lads are fully focused on the job at hand and ambitious. It’s a recipe for success.”
The long-term aim for everyone at Deepdale, from those working on the training ground to those crunching numbers in the boardroom, is to reach the so-called ‘promised land’ of the top flight.
The impressive form over the last few months means some have brought forward their prediction about when PNE might mix it with the big boys.
All this despite Simon Grayson’s men competing with ‘big teams’ such as Boxing Day opponents Leeds United for coveted play-off spots.
“You never know,” said Maxwell.
“Why not? Why can’t Preston North End play in the Premier League?
“It doesn’t matter about reputations, it doesn’t matter about wages, it doesn’t matter about transfer fees.
“It’s about what goes on on the training field day in, day out, what the attitude is in the camp, what the focus and the mind-set is and ultimately whoever performs the best on the Saturday will take the three points – it’s as simple as that.”
Maxwell has been a major reason behind North End’s rise after a slow start to the season.
Interviews with experienced members of Preston’s backline have often led to them hailing their new No.1, Paul Huntington going as far as to label him the club’s player of the year so far after the 2-1 victory at Bristol City last time out.
“I think it’s gone really well personally,” said Maxwell. “It’s been a very enjoyable period, it’s been a step up but I feel as though I’ve risen to the challenge.
“Now the next challenge it to maintain that.
“I don’t complicate things, I don’t think about things too much, I just take each game as it comes and first and foremost make sure I enjoy it.
“That’s the main aim of it because I played as a young kid just to play football and that’s all I want to do.
“That’s all I’ve set out to do this season and it’s happened for me, so I’m delighted.”
Leeds head across the Pennines fifth in the Championship after seven wins in their last nine games but Maxwell believes PNE have nothing to fear, given their recent impressive run.
“They’re a big club, they are Leeds United,” he said.
“There’s no surprise that they’re doing well. When I was growing up Leeds United were a top-four team in the country but we’re in fantastic form ourselves.
“We’re playing positive stuff and we’re resilient as well.
“It should be a good game.”
A near packed house is expected, with Maxwell admitting it is challenging time of year to put everything aside and concentrate on picking up three more Championship points.
“You get a special atmosphere every year and a lot more fans come to support the team, which is fantastic,” he said.
“Hopefully we can put on a performance for them that means they come back after Christmas.
“For the lads it can be a difficult time though.
“There are a lot of distractions at home, there are a lot of distractions in and around the football.
“We’ve got to make sure we’re fully focused on the game at hand, which we will be.”