Ben Pearson's Exclusive PNE column
If you had spoken to me four months ago and said I would be getting an extended contract here, I would have thought '˜no chance'.
At the start of the season I wasn’t in the team or even the match day squad, so a new deal hadn’t even crossed my mind.
It shows how things can change so quickly in football and as we reach the end of 2016, I’ve signed a three-and-a-half year contract.
I’ve played in 15 of the last 16 games, done well and I’m enjoying my football.
As a footballer, you work hard to keep getting contracts and play for as long as you can.
When I joined Preston from Manchester United last January, I signed a two-and-a-half year contract.
So I had 18 months left and by agreeing two years on top of that, it gives me a bit more to go off.
I’m settled at the club, it’s a great place to be and the lads are a good bunch.
The last few months have been a learning curve, with me being out of the team and then getting back in it.
Hopefully I can kick on from here and continue to improve.
When it comes to sorting out a new contract, it is a bit of a mutual thing about who approaches who.
You tend to know when the time is right for a talk and a deal generally gets sorted quite quickly when you want the same thing.
When I look back at the season, a big turning point was the Bournemouth game in September.
A lot of players featured that night who hadn’t been playing much in the league, not just myself.
Chris Maxwell, Ben Pringle and Simon Makienok came in and we did well as a team.
You could tell by how we were doing in training that we would be fine to play in that game.
A few of us had waited for our chance and I think we took it, not just with the result but with the performance to.
We maybe let the manager know that we were ready to come in and play on a more regular basis.
It can be hard going into the side when you haven’t played for six or seven games.
I was speaking to the coach Steve Thompson about that earlier in the season.
People expect you to go in and make the difference but it is hard when you don’t have your match sharpness.
That is why you can look back at the Bournemouth game with a lot of satisfaction.
The result was no fluke, everyone worked hard on the night and we’ve pushed on well from that night.
As we head into the final game of 2016 on Saturday, I think we can be satisfied with our position, especially after the start we had.
Compared to last season, we are seven points better off and have scored more goals.
A few more clean sheets would be an improvement and that is something to work on.
We are not a million miles off the play-off positions and have the potential to continue getting better.
Next up is two games in three days which will be a test of the full squad.
Christmas wasn’t bad at all in terms of the matches.
We had a nine-day break between the Bristol City game and Leeds on Boxing Day, then we’ve had the last few days to get ready to play Sheffield Wednesday.
Now the pace picks up, with us playing Saturday and Monday.
I would think all of the squad will be needed at some strange and that will give a chance to some of the lads who have not been playing to stake a claim.
It is tough going playing two games close together but it is the same every years and you adapt.
Beyond those two games, we have got the FA Cup clash with Arsenal coming up.
While our focus is on the two league games, it is only right that the supporters will be looking forward to Arsenal coming here.
I’m hoping that Arsenal send a strong team because as a player, I want to play against the best – prove myself.
Games like this don’t come along every week.
Whatever side they put out, it will be tough, but it would be great to see the big names on the pitch.
We will start thinking about that game after we’ve played Burton on Monday.
Our aim is to get two good results in the Championship which can hopefully push us further up the table.
We weren’t happy to be beaten by Leeds on Boxing Day, so we need to respond in the right manner.