Exclusive Marnick Vermijl PNE column

It was a relief to have the operation to repair the hernia which I had and now I'm 100% fit and ready to play to return to the squad when the time comes.

Getting to grips with Leeds United's Gaetano Berardi at Deepdale
Getting to grips with Leeds United's Gaetano Berardi at Deepdale

Like many other players who get a hernia, mine came on over time.

At the start I could play the games without too many problems but gradually it got a lot worse.

The day after games I could not move properly and I was not able to train fully.

I would train and do enough to make sure I could play on the Saturday but I could not complete the full session.

It was at that point that it was decided I should have the surgery.

The problem started in my left groin and moved higher to my abs.

I also started to get a few problems on my right side but that was down to how I was running.

If you remember, I missed the game at Burton Albion at the beginning of January.

That was around the time it started but I got back to play against Arsenal in the FA Cup.

After that I played three more games before it began to get too much.

It’s five weeks since I had the operation and I’ve been back training fully for the last couple of weeks.

I’m glad to have got it all sorted and hopefully that is the end of the injury.

A couple of the other lads, Paul Gallagher and Alan Browne, had hernias last season.

Every player and every injury is a bit different in terms of how you recover and how long you can play on for.

Unfortunately while I was out injured, so were all the other right-backs at the club. Alex Baptiste, Calum Woods and Tyias Browning have all been out.

Calum’s been out since pre-season but Baps got his injury a few weeks before mine and then Tyias was hurt a month or so ago.

Sometimes that happens in football, you get a position which is hit by injuries.

At another club it might have been a group of strikers who were ruled out, it just happened to be right-backs here.

Others have filled in very well and that is the good thing about the squad here, we can shuffle people around to play – that is a strength of ours.

With the international break out of the way, we now have our attention on the last eight Championship games and will try to force our way into the play-offs.

We are five points off at the moment and looking to make up the gap.

I would say that the next couple of games, at home to Nottingham Forest and then Bristol City, are crucial to our season.

If we could get six points from them, that would put us in a very healthy position.

When you consider how we started the season and struggled for results, it has been a very good revival.

I think that is down to having players who can make something happen out of nothing – even if we aren’t playing well, we are still able to be creative.

That is probably the big difference from last season when we were solid but not quite as attacking.

We were the new boys last season, just up from League One, and the priority was to make sure we stayed in the division.

This season we have really pushed on and become more attack-minded.

The squad is stronger, we have people on the bench who can come on and offer something a lot different to those in the starting XI.

Our home record has also been a lot better this season and had played a big part in us being where we are in the division.

That is why I say these next two games are crucial, if we can get two wins it would set us up well for a couple of tough away games.

At the moment I would say that there is a lot more pressure on the sides already in the play-off positions than those outside of it.

At this stage of the season I would rather be just outside than in the top six.

Obviously I would like the gap to be a bit smaller than it currently is but ours is not a bad position to be in.

We are more the outsider 
and have work to do but some of those above us have spent big money and need to be up there.

If we were to get into 
the play-offs, anything could happen.

I don’t think anyone would particularly like to play us because of some of the threats to have.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. We will take it one game at a time and focus on playing as well as we can.

As the games go by and the closer to the end of the season we get, we’ll see where we are up to.