The player column '“ Alan Browne
The Irish have been flowing to Preston North End over the last few months and we are not too far away from an Irish starting XI now!
Last season in training when we had a 5-a-side, we would sometimes split into internationals.
If we do that this year, we might have a bit of an unfair advantage.
The latest Irish players to arrive here are of course Sean Maguire and Kevin O’Connor.
I know both lads very well from the past and I’ve been doing my best to help them settle in, both on and off the pitch.
On it, they probably don’t need much help because they are both talented lads.
Away from the football, I’ve been giving them a hand looking at houses, taking them to different areas for a look around.
Sean and Kevin have both been spending quite a bit of time at my house too but that doesn’t fortunately extend to sleeping on the couch or anything like that – they are comfortable enough staying at Farington Lodge for the time being.
In terms of finding a place to live, I’ve told them to try and be near a few of the other lads because that makes it easier with car schools and getting into training.
Quite a few of us travel in together and it shares the driving around.
Sean had already shown what a handful he can be to an opposition defence.
He has got a low centre of gravity, is very sharp and very direct.
When he touches the ball past a defender, Sean just goes and he can be tough for people to handle.
Sean is a strong lad too and perhaps that is not something people realise straight away because of his height.
In the two friendlies he has played, you will have seen how well he holds the ball up.
Kevin is a very good player in a different position and will be keen to show what he can do.
It won’t surprise you to learn that there is a real buzz about the place with the start of the season almost here.
That is from our side of things and the fans too, we are all really up for it.
Hopefully we can start with the right result against Sheffield Wednesday.
The main focus when you come back for pre-season is the first league game – you have that in your sights from the word go.
You get ready for that game and then take things from there.
As pre-seasons go, I think this has been a good one and obviously there’s been a lot of change about the place.
Some of our results in the pre-season friendlies were very convincing, we finished off well at Fleetwood Town last week.
In a few of the games we put on a good show for the fans with some really good football.
The football which we want to play should be very exciting to watch.
Obviously the big event of the summer here was the change of manager.
Different managers go about their jobs in different ways.
Simon Grayson knew what needed doing, he had us set-up in a certain way.
Our main priority was not to concede and then to take things from there.
The new manager wants us to play out from the back, take a few more risks.
We are not talking about risks here as in playing across your own six-yard box or anything like that.
It is more about getting on the ball and being prepared to move it quickly, make a pass to find a way through.
Not every pass is going to pay off all the time but when we get into a flow, we have been showing what we are capable of.
Personally I’m enjoying it, the role I’ve had is getting me on the ball much more and allowing me to create more chances for the team.
It helps when you have the defenders stepping in to get on the ball, that can help you out-number the other team in certain areas.
Over the summer, I was very proud to win my first senior cap for the Republic of Ireland.
I’m not going to get ahead of myself because I’ve played one game but it really was a massive honour.
Whatever happens, no one can take that cap away from me.
Training with Ireland and going to America with them meant my summer break was a couple of weeks shorter.
When you get the chance to represent your country, cutting short your break is not much of a sacrifice to make.
The club allowed me to report back for pre-season training three or four days later than the other lads which was welcome and much appreciated.