PNE skipper ready for battle

Tom ClarkeTom Clarke
Tom Clarke
Preston skipper Tom Clarke predicts none of the teams battling for a play-off are in for a '˜smooth' ride over the coming weeks.

The defender predicts lots of twists and turns with the season down to its last eight matches.

North End resume action in a week’s time and their task is to close a five-point gap on the top six.

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Clarke told the Post: “To be even talking about getting into the play-offs at this stage of the season is a good feat for the players and staff.

“Our aim is to put pressure on the teams above and you never know what might then happen.

“Teams will take points off one another and I don’t think everything will run smoothly for anyone up there.

“We’ve got ourselves into a decent position, we are in touch with the play-off places and we’ll see where the next few weeks take us.

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“We’ve been trying to use the international break to our advantage.

“It is nice to recharge the batteries and get a bit of rest before the games start to come thick and fast again.

“This week we have worked hard on the training pitch and now we’ve got the weekend off to relax.

“On Monday we will be back on it and starting the build-up to the game against Nottingham Forest.”

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Clarke bagged an assist in PNE’s last game at Blackburn, his pass setting up Aiden McGeady for the 93rd-minute equaliser.

With Sheffield Wednesday and Fulham above them losing, the point they got from the 2-2 draw might yet prove to be an important one.

Looking back on events at Ewood Park, Clarke said: “We knew it was going to be a 
tough game and that’s exactly what it was. Blackburn were six games unbeaten beforehand.

“We started really well and went into the lead with Tom Barkhuizen’s goal.

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“It got difficult after that and we were having to chase the game in the closing stages.

“By the end, although I was playing in a back three, I went upfield to be another body in and around the box.

“For the goal, I didn’t think Paul Gallagher had seen me when he got the ball.

“But he had done and his pass through to me was such a good one.

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“Geads was in the right place for a little reverse pass inside and he was very calm in controlling the ball before putting it away.

“I suppose there was a chance of me shooting but one of their defenders was flying out and that narrowed the angle.

“For us to score at the end where our 6,000 supporters were stood was fantastic.

“They were class, we could hear them all game.”