Luke Foster won’t be resting on his laurels after landing a contract at Preston.
The centre-half has signed up until the end of the season following a successful spell as a trailist and non-contract player.
But the 27-year-old is determined to make his stay at Deepdale a longer one.
Foster arrived on PNE’s doorstep in the autumn as he searched for a foothold back in senior football after a serious knee injury.
His intention was just to get fit under the tutelage of Graham Westley, who he had played under at Stevenage.
As he regained his fitness, Foster caught the eye with his performances in training, doing enough for North End to register him on a non-contract basis last month.
He played four games without being paid, leading to him last week signing a deal until the end of the campaign.
Foster told the Evening Post: “It was a relief to get the contract sorted out. Signing it won’t mean I’ll be sitting still – I have to carry on what I’ve been doing.
“There are only four months until the end of the season and I’ve got to prove in that time that I’m worth keeping on for longer.
“I’m grateful that Preston have given me opportunities, first to train with them to get fit and then to join their squad.
“What happened was that I damaged my cruciate ligament during my time playing for Rotherham last season.
“It was a nothing tackle in training which started things off, and at first we thought it was nothing serious.
“Then in the next game against Hereford, the ligament fully ruptured.
“I’d partly ruptured it during the training session without realising, and the knee simply couldn’t handle me twisting during the next game.
“That was the first bad injury I’d had, and any footballer will tell you that doing your cruciate ligament is one you want to avoid.
“It’s a minimum of seven months out followed by all the rehabilitation work.
“After the injury healed I needed to get fit and didn’t have a club.
“So I thought my best opportunity was to approch Graham Westley and see if I could train here.
“I wasn’t thinking of signing for Preston –my focus was just on getting fit and putting myself out there ready to try and find a club in January.
“Graham saw a bit of the player in me coming out in the training sessions so gave me the chance to stay here.
“I signed on a non-contract basis and was playing for free.
“I’d got no right to ask for money at that stage, it was just a case of proving myself.
“It’s no secret that Graham Westley likes his teams to be very fit.
“That is why I approached him in the first place because if anyone could get me right, it was him.
“When you are in one of his squads, you are at the top of your fitness and stay there.
“You don’t have to worry about fitness – it’s there – and it leaves you able to concentrate on the playing side of things.”
Foster will be looking to feature for North End in tonight’s Johnstone’s Paint Trophy tie at Coventry.
He had to sit out last Saturday’s FA Cup defeat to Millwall because he was cup-tied.
Hindsight is a wonderful thing, and Foster’s unavailability at the New Den can be traced back to a short spell with Northern Premier League side Matlock Town.
“I played a few games for Matlock earlier in the season before I came to Preston,” said Foster.
“It was probably a bit too early to be playing again after the injury, but I knew the Matlock manager and I was itching to play.
“He asked me to come in and get some minutes under my belt.
“One of the games happened to be an FA Cup qualifier and I didn’t think for one moment it would affect me further down the line.
“I thought that if I joined a club in January, they’d probably be out of the cup by then.
“That came back to kick me where it hurts!
“An appearance months ago for Matlock stopped me playing at the New Den.
“Hopefully I can be back involved at Coventry tonight.
“This is a big game for the club and one which we are all relishing.
“The JPT gives you the opportunity to play at Wembley and that is something we all want so much.
“Coventry will be thinking the same thing as us – they’ll want to make progress.
“I was on the bench for the league game there before Christmas, and I thought we gave a good account of ourselves that day – we could have won it.”