Welsh excited by PNE prospects ahead of big kick-off

John Welsh.

John Welsh.

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John Welsh believes it’s exciting times for Preston North End as the new season kicks off at Reading today.

The combative midfielder is one of a number of players battling for a start at the Madejski Stadium as Simon Grayson’s side begin the new Championship campaign.

The 32-year-old said: “It’s always good to have competition for places.

“It pushes people to want to do their best day in, day out.

“You want to get the best out of yourself and the people who are starting Saturday are going to be looking over their shoulders and kept on their toes.

“The lads that don’t play are going to be raring to go and wanting to do well to get the shirt.

“There’s healthy competition throughout the group.

“We all want to give the manager a headache about who to pick, there’s even competition to be on the bench.

“It’s exciting times. There’s a great bunch of lads, good people, but everyone’s fighting to get that shirt on Saturday.”

Competition in the squad is fiercer than ever with the North End squad having been bolstered by the arrival of seven new signings all of whom are already right at home according to Welsh.

He said: “The lads that have come in have been brilliant and have adapted quite well to the group.

“Credit to the group because it’s a good set of players, everyone gets on well with each other, there was never going to be an issue about whether players were going to settle in.

“They’re good lads to know off the pitch, and have come into strengthen a good bunch.”

As for Saturday’s opponents Reading, the Royals look to be something of an unknown quantity with new boss Jaap Stam taking on his first managerial role.

The former Manchester United player has brought in a host of new players but Welsh, entering his fifth season with North End, says the Lilywhites will be focusing on their own jobs on Saturday.

The Liverpudlian said: “It’s about keeping doing what we’ve been doing.

“We’ve got a gameplan that we’ve been working on throughout the week and we’ve got to meet the expectations that we set for each other and the manager sets for us and play the game in the right way.

“If we do that I’m sure we’ll be okay.

“Your first objective is to win the first league game and that’s what we’ll be looking to do.”