Will Hayhurst is eager to fight for his place at Preston North End next season after returning from a 20-game loan spell with York City.
The winger left Deepdale at the end of January for his stint with the Minstermen.
Like his PNE team-mates, Hayhurst, 20, suffered play-off heartache as York were beaten by Fleetwood in the League Two semi-finals.
He is tipping both clubs to come back stronger in the 2014/15 campaign and wants to be part of Simon Grayson’s plans at Preston.
Hayhurst told the Evening Post: “Going to York on loan was a great experience for me.
“I needed a regular run of games and it was good to be part of a side which went on a long unbeaten run and got into the play-offs.
“In the end it was gutting that York went out in the way they did to Fleetwood – things just didn’t drop for us.
“I learned a lot at York, experiencing different situations.
“They were quite low down the table when I joined but got on a great run to get into the play-offs.
“York’s manager Nigel Worthington used to be a left-back, so he was able to give me some advice about playing on that side of the pitch.
“Being able to link up with Ben Davies down the left-hand side was fantastic too.
“I’m now back at Preston and hopefully I can push myself forward for a place next season.
“I will be fitter and stronger after playing a lot of football with York.
“I know that it is going to be tough to do that because Preston have a really strong squad and there is a lot of good competition.”
What helped Hayhurst settle in well at York was having fellow PNE loanee Davies as a team-mate.
Left-back Davies won the young player of the year award at Bootham Crescent and, like Hayhurst, will be back in North End’s squad after the summer.
“Ben did really well there and I thought he was close to winning the main player of the year award, not just the young player one,” said Hayhurst.
“For an 18-year-old to have played 47 games is great going.
“I know that Preston have got two great left-backs in Scott Laird and David Buchanan but I feel that Ben can push them.”
Hayhurst’s season only finished on Saturday, when he played for the Republic of Ireland Under-21s against the Qatar Olympic side in Aachen, Germany.
It was a painful end, a blow to the face seeing him depart the action before half-time.
Said Hayhurst: “I went up for a header and got an elbow in my eye.
“There was blood pouring everywhere from a cut which needed five stitches.
“Normally I would have been able to carry on but the squad was getting rotated anyway and I would have come off at some stage probably.
“It was a good experience. Qatar kept the ball well, as the foreign sides tend to, so we had a lot of work to do.
“I’ll enjoy the break now, go on holiday and keep up with the summer fitness regime to make sure I come back for training in good shape.”
Meanwhile, PNE defender Bailey Wright was an unused substitute in Australia’s 1-1 draw with South Africa in Sydney yesterday.