Exclusive Sean Gregan PNE column
Although Preston are limping towards the finishing line, I still think it has been a good season in a division full of big hitters.
The dip in form these last few weeks is probably down to the players hitting a brick wall after realising their hopes of making the top six were over.
It is a not a deliberate thing that the performance level drops, it is often just a case of running out of energy and the adrenaline levels go.
They have not completely dropped off though.
I saw the Newcastle game last Monday and in the first half North End were the better team.
What went against them was conceding early and late in that first half.
Newcastle’s second goal changed the complexion of the night, changed the team-talks in both dressing rooms.
In that game, I liked Paul Gallagher in that deep role behind the midfield.
The legs might be a little slower than they once were but he has a clever football brain.
Jordan Hugill continues to impress me and I can see clubs sniffing after him over the summer.
I have a lot of friends who support Middlesbrough, which is where Hugill is from.
They like the look of him and think it is a player like that they need if they come back down.
Saturday’s draw against Rotherham was not the best and it would have been nice to have ended at home on a winning note.
The big plus from the game was the goal scored by Stevie May in what was his first start since that horrible knee injury.
He is probably the only one in the squad who does not want this season to end, having got his first goal and first start.
He will probably get a start at Wolves next week and then it is a case of him working hard in the summer and then getting a proper pre-season under his belt.
I was in a similar situation a few years ago when I tore my Achilles tendon during my time at Oldham.
After being out for more than four months, I got back for the last couple of games of the season.
I couldn’t wait for pre-season to come around and I made sure I worked during the summer to be right for that.
May’s return from a long time out will hopefully give a lift to PNE skipper Tom Clarke who is recovering from a ruptured Achilles.
Clarke will see how a team-mate has managed to battle back and use that as inspiration.
As I mentioned, I did my Achilles a few years back and it is a nasty injury to have.
I had a 66% tear in mine and got back in four months but it sounds like Clarke’s is a lot worse.
He will get the best care from North End’s medical staff and it is a case of him following their advice and putting his faith in them.
Advances in treatment mean that players come back a lot stronger these days.