Wright relishing PNE’s step up

Bailey Wright during Tuesday's Capital One  Cup clash
Bailey Wright during Tuesday's Capital One Cup clash
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Preston North End might not have had the results they desire so far this season but Bailey Wright is enjoying the challenge which the Championship offers.

A decent enough start – a win and two draws in the league – has given way to a run of four defeats and a draw.

It is that form which North End will look to reverse this weekend against Wolves at Deepdale.

There were promising signs of a step in the right direction when they took Bournemouth to penalties in the Capital One Cup on Tuesday night.

However, it is in the league where a pick-up in form really matters.

Wright said: “After a few years playing in League One, you want to test yourself at the next level and I’m enjoying doing that.

“Recently we have not had the results we want and it goes without saying that we need to find some form quickly.

“We were pretty pleased with the start we made in August but now we are in a position where individually and collectively, it is important to kick on.

“In every game we are learning about the Championship and what challenges it offers.

“Last season in League One we played against some good players but there is a big difference.

“Give someone half a chance in the Championship and you notice that you get punished.

“Clubs have quality in their starting XI and quality on the bench.

“It is a tougher division, more ruthless definitely.

“We have had some games where our performance has maybe deserved more than the result we have got.

“They might have been games where we have not necessarily dominated but have been the better side.

“On reflection this season, we have had one bad half of football where we weren’t at it.

“That was at Brentford and we were very disappointed by that because we set higher standards.”

Wright will be up against Benik Afobe on Saturday, the Wolves front man one of those players who could fall into the ‘ruthless’ category.

The former Arsenal trainee found the net 32 times last season for MK Dons and then Wolves.

This term, he has scored three league goals and another in the Capital One Cup. “As a defender you come across a lot of good strikers at this level and Afobe is one of them,” said Wright.

“Last season he played against us for MK Dons here, so he is someone who is familiar to us.

“We know what he is capable of and we will have to be on top on our game.”

Wright got a recall to the back line for the Bournemouth game after being left on the bench at Brentford last week, the second-half performance one to consign to the ‘forgettable’ category.

He replaced Paul Huntington who was suffering from a
 slight hamstring strain, an injury which makes Huntington a doubt to face Wolves too. Wright felt that North End gave a good account of themselves in the midweek cup tie, eventually beaten 3-2 on penalties after it finished 2-2 after extra time.

“We played pretty well I thought and produced some good football at times,” said 23-year-old Wright.

“At the end of the day we were a bit unlucky to lose on penalties.

“We fought back twice in the game and had plenty of character about us.

“Although we lost, let’s not get away from the fact that we took a Premier League side to penalties.

“Bournemouth are a good side and although they made a lot of changes, had a lot of quality.

“We can take a lot of confidence from Tuesday’s game as we try to get back to winning ways.

“Last season we were used to winning a lot and that is something we want to get back to quickly.”

Wright playing in the Championship this season has given his Australia chances a boost.

He started the Socceroos’ two World Cup qualifiers in the recent international break against Bangladesh and Tajikistan.

They won both games and their next assignment is a trip to Jordan in October.

Trying to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia is a lengthy affair, with this first set of group games only the start of it.

Wright has five international caps to his name since breaking into the squad ahead of last year’s World Cup in Brazil.

Said Wright: “We have played three teams in the group so far and have to go to Jordan next.

“Then we’ve got to play them all again. If we get through this group, we have another group to go into.

“It is a long process with a lot of football to be played.

“With us being in the Central Asia group, it is offering up plenty of trips to places you wouldn’t normally visit.

“Earlier in the month we went to Tajikistan which is a country you wouldn’t go to on your holidays.

“It was an interesting place to visit and a good experience.

“The people over there were very welcoming and we enjoyed the trip and result.

“Playing for Australia is great and something I always had ambitions of doing.

“I feel that playing international football can help me at club level.

“Before the internationals, we have got two big games for Preston.”