PNE star hoping to realise boyhood ambition

Ben Pringle is desperate to realise his dream of playing at St James' Park when Preston North End face Newcastle United.
Ben PringleBen Pringle
Ben Pringle

The midfielder was a Toon season-ticket holder in his youth and had ambitions to play for the Magpies.

He never got that chance, instead signing for West Brom at the age of 16.

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In his career, Pringle has not seen action at St James’ Park, the closest he got being as an unused substitute for Derby County in 2009.

Having just forced his way back into the PNE side, he hopes it happens in tonight’s EFL Cup visit to Tyneside.

“I can’t wait for this game and hopefully I will be in the team,” said Pringle.

“Even if I’m not, just being there will be a good experience.

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“When I was growing up, my dream was to play for Newcastle at St James’ Park.

“It would be special if I get the chance in this game.

“When I was 15, I had a season ticket for a year.

“Before that, I used to go to a lot of the games with my dad.

“I got the season ticket with one of my mates and I had it for a season before I went to West Brom.

“That was when Shearer, Bellamy, Robert, Dyer were there, it was a decent team.

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“It has happened to a lot of people at clubs up and down the country that they don’t get to play for the team they support.

“The next best thing would be to play for another team at St James’ Park and hopefully I’ll have that chance.

“I got on the bench for Derby there a few years ago.

Nigel Clough said he would try and put me on for the last 10 minutes.

“It was a game we drew 0-0 and we were hanging on at bit so I didn’t get on in the end.

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“It was a good experience just being there and it would nice to go one better.”

With Newcastle top of the Championship and bang in form, it is a tough assignment in the North East for PNE.

But they are on a good run themselves and are targeting a place in the competition’s quarter-finals for the first time.

A twist in the tale is that the clubs meet again at Deepdale on Saturday in the league.

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Pringle said: “When I first joined, I looked for the games against Newcastle first.

“To then get paired with them in the cup and to play the game in the same week as the league meeting, was strange.

“These are two big games for us and then we play Rotherham who I spent a long time with.

“Both teams will be thinking about the league game at the weekend.

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“But we are not going up there to hold back, we want to have a go and try to win the game.

“Newcastle will be the same and whatever team they put out, it will be a strong one.

“It is up to us to stop them and find a way to get into the next round.

“Our record against the teams at the top of the league is very good.

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“We have got a team spirit and are willing to fight hard for each other.

“It would be nice to cause another upset against a big club.”

Pringle has had a fight on his hands in recent weeks to get a regular game in the PNE team.

He started the campaign as a regular starter following July’s £250,000 move from Fulham.

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An injury sustained in the EFL Cup second round win over Oldham, briefly sidelined him and then he could not win his place back.

Last month, he played the 120 minutes of the extra-time win at Bournemouth.

Pringle’s next appearance was as a second-half substitute at Brighton 10 days ago.

That cameo display earned him a start against Huddersfield last Wednesday and he kept his place for Saturday’s win over Norwich.

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“It did get a bit frustrating over the last couple of months not to be playing,” said Pringle.

“I needed to work a little bit on my fitness and recently I’ve got back in which feels good.

“Midfield is probably the busiest area of our squad, with players ready slot in.

“When you get a start in the team or come on as a sub, it is all about producing your best form and putting yourself in the manager’s thoughts.

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“You’ve got to try and bring something to the team, make your mark and keep hold of the shirt.

“Playing in this competition at Bournemouth last month did me good personally.

“I benefited from it, as did the other lads, and the Newcastle game might be the same.”

PNE are unbeaten in seven games, the Bournemouth win setting them along that road.

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Pringle is enjoying the ride, even though there is not much time to savour what they have been doing.

“You don’t get much time to think about the games because of how quickly they are coming,” said the 27-year-old.

“You literally finish the game, have a day off, train and play the next game.

“That pattern has suited us well, we are rolling from one game to the next one.

“Fingers crossed, we can keep this run going.”