PNE midfielder’s staying power

Neil Kilkenny is delighted to have pledged his future to Preston
Neil Kilkenny is delighted to have pledged his future to Preston
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Neil Kilkenny says there was never any doubt in his mind that he would be starting the season as a Preston North End player.

The midfielder pledged his future to Deepdale by signing a two-year contract last week.

And he joined his Lilywhites team-mates for the start of pre-season training yesterday in determined mood, hoping that the 2014/15 campaign can be a successful one.

Kilkenny told the Evening Post: “I’m glad to be back because I definitely wanted to stay here.

“In the summer I got my holiday out of the way then came back and signed the contract straight away.

“This is a great club – the fans have been brilliant with me since I arrived, as has the manager and the players.

“There was interest from some other clubs but for me it was all about Preston.

“Working with Simon Grayson and Glynn Snodin again was a big attraction and Preston are moving in the right direction.

“It is great that I am starting pre-season training here, being part of it from the beginning.

“Last season I was at Bristol City for the first three or four months before joining Preston.”

Kilkenny played eight times for North End while on loan from City at the end of last year.

The Australian made the move permanent in January, making a further 24 appearances.

At the end of last season, PNE boss Grayson announced that he wanted to keep Kilkenny and talks over the summer led to the new deal being agreed.

The North End players had a double session at Springfields on their first day back.

Club owner Trevor Hemmings was a visitor to the training ground to welcome them back.

Putting them through their paces was new fitness coach Tom Little who previously worked on Grayson’s staff at Huddersfield.

He worked at Birmingham last season and was with Sheffield Wednesday and Burnley earlier in his career. While it will be a tough few weeks of training building up to the new season, Kilkenny is looking forward to the sessions.

The 28-year-old said: “To be honest, the older I have got, the more I’ve started to enjoy 
pre-season training.

“This is the time when you get your fitness for the whole season so it’s an important period.

“We all stay in shape during the holidays so it’s just a case of sharpening up and getting your body prepared.

“I did some running over the summer to tick over but also got plenty of rest, which is important. We all know what the objective is this season. We will be working hard to do that and the club has the ability to kick on.

“It was like the first day back at school yesterday with all the lads catching up on what they had done during the break.

“Everyone is pleased to be back now and it is a case of getting through the next few weeks and ready for the season.

“The friendlies start quite soon and it will be good to get out on the pitch again.”

North End’s first friendly is at Chorley on Tuesday, July 15, before Liverpool visit on July 19.

The Reds have sold out their 5,000 allocation in the Bill Shankly Kop, with PNE fans having so far snapped up a similar number.

Tickets cost £15 for adults, £10 for ambassadors who have renewed this season, and £5 for concessions.