Exclusive Ben Pearson PNE column
It has been great to be back as a regular starter in the Preston side over the last few weeks after a difficult start to the season.
For the first couple of months of the campaign, I was just not playing or even getting in the squad on matchdays.
We have got a strong squad here and it was tough not to be involved.
So what changed it and what got me back into the team and squad?
I worked hard in training, worked hard in the gym, changing my approach a little bit to how I had done things in previous years to hopefully have a positive effect.
I had just moved house, so it was also about settling down and eating more of the right foods.
Those different things accumulated to doing well in training, which got me noticed by the gaffer.
In football you are never completely out of the picture, and that especially applies here at Preston.
You can be out of the side for a while and then after a few injuries come along, suddenly you are back in the team.
A lot of lads have gone through a similar thing to me this season.
Daniel Johnson had it to some extent, Ben Pringle and Chris Maxwell too.
Paul Gallagher had been out for a few matches before getting back the other night.
It just shows the strength and depth of the squad – we have 25 genuine first-team players who could play in the starting XI.
Previously there was the emergency loan system so you could perhaps have 22 first-team squad members and then if needs be, dive into the loan market.
With no loans outside of the window, the gaffer has put together a larger group of genuine first-team players to cover all eventualities.
It can be a good thing or a bad thing – if you are in the team you are under pressure to perform – if you are not in the team, there is always that opportunity to come in if someone dips in form.
I’m enjoying it, the team is doing well, I’m doing well, so I can’t have any complaints.
My role in midfield can change from game to game.
Against Huddersfield, with DJ and myself being a two in midfield, I couldn’t venture forward as much because it would have left DJ a little bit vulnerable.
The gaffer told me to stay in the middle of the pitch a bit more, whereas when you play in a three and you have got John Welsh behind, you can push forward more and not worry about defending as much.
I’ve been here at Preston since January and I’m really enjoying it.
It took me a little while to get used to the club because I didn’t know the lads and coaching staff at first.
For the first few months, it was a case of getting used to the league because I hadn’t played at this level before.
I was understanding all the different kinds of players and how they play.
This season in training we have looked a lot sharper,it has been a lot more intense and we have taken that into games.
Because there are so many players and places up for grabs, everyone wants to work hard to get into the side.
That leads to good training and everyone being on their toes.
On paper, October’s fixture list was a daunting task.
A run like that can go either way – horribly wrong or really well. Every point you get from these games is one well earned and we have done well.
The Aston Villa display was top class, Brighton last week was a really good away point.
Huddersfield in midweek was another good home performance.
It is weird how the fixtures have fallen but you just knock them off one by one. With the big games, everyone seems to up their game that little bit – that is natural.
We now have Norwich and Newcastle as the next two, which will be tough, but we will get on with it.
It is a bit strange how we have drawn Newcastle in the cup just before we play them at home in the league but that is the way it has happened.
The cup tie is just as important as the league because we can get to the quarter-final if we win – it is a big ask but a big achievement if we can do that.
My career started with Manchester United – I was there from a young age.
I came through with quite a few lads who have done well in the game. Adnan Januzaj, James Wilson and Paddy McNair were three lads from my age group.
Jesse Lindgard and Paul Pogba were two years above.
Just training and playing with them has aided my development. When the time came for me to leave United, it was the right time. I didn’t want to stand still and play Under-23s football for much longer. I’d had the loan spell at Barnsley and it was time to move somewhere full time and make a career.
I still look at United’s scores. If any of my friends are playing for other teams, I have a look through their results.
Probably 80% of the players who have been in the reserves at United in recent seasons have gone on to have good careers there.