Bailey Wright signed a new contract at Preston this week and as far as the Lilywhites squad is concerned, he is fast approaching veteran status – 10 days short of his 23rd birthday.
The Aussie is North End’s current longest-serving player by some distance, it being six years since he first set foot at Springfields for a trial.
A battle through red tape to be registered, a first-team debut at 17, rejection and then reinstatement under Graham Westley, involvement at the World Cup and a Wembley victory, sketches a rough picture of Wright’s time here.
It is a refreshing football tale in a week when 20-year-old Raheem Sterling completed his £49m move from Liverpool to Manchester City, one he manoeuvred himself into in a rather distasteful way.
Chatting to Wright at Bamber Bridge on Tuesday night, we jokingly mentioned that a testimonial would be just around the corner.
Should he see through the deal penned on Monday, it would only be another two years away!
Wright is PNE’s one survivor from their previous time in the Championship, it being a burning desire of his ever since to be part of the team which regained that status.
He was almost discarded before that could be achieved, puzzling transfer-listed by a manager who had just given him his longest run in the team.
Within a few days, Wright’s name had been scrubbed off the unwanted list – intervention from the Isle of Man I’m led to believe – and the rest is history.
As North End begin life in the second tier three weeks on Sunday, it will be with a fully-fit Wright in the squad.
That was not the case this time last year as the defender struggled with a groin injury, that the legacy of having little rest due to him going to the World Cup with Australia.
We did not get to see the best of Wright in the first two months of last term, with him clearly restricted by damage to both groin muscles.
Surgery healed the injuries and it was a slow burn back to full fitness, a run in the team only starting in the 2-0 win at Chesterfield in February.
By the end of the season, I felt we were seeing Wright back to his best – his display at Wembley excellent.
Now we can look forward to seeing how he does back in the Championship, a challenge he tells me he is relishing.
Wright’s new deal continued the policy of North End this summer to secure the futures of the core of the squad which won them promotion.
Tom Clarke, John Welsh, Paul Huntington, Joe Garner, Chris Humphrey, Alan Browne and now Wright have signed-up to new deals.
Jermaine Beckford and Paul Gallagher have become full-time PNE players, the job now being to add some more quality to that spine.
It is not necessarily about numbers, after all North End were able to field different sides in each half at Chorley and Brig.
The key is raising the bar that extra few notches, adding players who have played at Championship level or who have the potential to adapt quickly to it.
While we all want to see more signings, it is important deals are done for the right reasons and not just for the sake of it.
I’m sure we could quite easily have been watching a completed squad by now had PNE jumped into early deals, but hand on heart, would they have been the right ones?
The craving for news of potential new signings caused something of a stir on social media in midweek.
A picture was snapped of a gentleman sat in the Bamber Bridge directors’ box, close to where Simon Grayson, Glynn Snodin and some of the PNE hierarchy were sat. Rumours buzzed around that this could possibly be a soon-to-be announced signing.
It was in fact Daniel Johnson’s agent and credit to him that at 43, he is still in the kind of shape to be mistaken for someone 20 years younger.
Casting an eye over the two friendlies played to date, the win at Bamber Bridge was a better spectacle than the goalless draw with Chorley.
Aside from that, there is precious little to be drawn from bounce games at this stage of the build-up.
It is not just the players who are attempting to shake off the summer rust, the same applies to us reporters too.
That ability to tweet, write notes and hammer the lap top keyboard, takes a bit of getting used to again.
Probably why a tweet from myself at Brig read ‘free lick’ instead of ‘free-kick’– leading to all sorts of replies about ice lollies and some more risqué ones which I won’t repeat!