PNE star set for first appearance against old club

Paul Gallagher
Paul Gallagher
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Preston North End playmaker Paul Gallagher says that the derby clash against his former club Blackburn is the stand-out game for him in the fixture list.

The Deepdale meeting with Rovers a week on Saturday will be the first time Gallagher has faced them since leaving more than six years ago.

So it is understandable that the midfielder is counting down the days to the resumption of action after the international break.

Gallagher told the Evening Post: “The Blackburn game was the one I looked out for straight away when the fixtures came out.

“I haven’t played against them since I left, not even for a cup game so it’s a long time.

“It is a game that I am really looking forward to.

“All my family and friends are Blackburn fans, although I am hoping they might be supporting Preston that day.

“It will be a bit weird coming up against my home town club for the first time – a club I used to play for.

“A lot of people have moved on from when I was at Blackburn, although I think a few people are still there and it will be nice to see them.

“It will be a big occasion for me because it’s the club which gave me a chance in football.

“I’ve got a lot of respect for them but when I cross that white line, I will be playing for Preston North End and I will be wanting to win.

“I’m a winner and it doesn’t matter who we will be playing, I’ll be wanting those three points.”

Gallagher has played a big part in the Lilywhites finding their form in the last few weeks, with Simon Grayson’s men now six matches unbeaten.

Having missed all of the games in September with a calf injury, his first start back in the team was the 0-0 draw with Cardiff which kicked-off the unbeaten run.

For the last five games, he has played a deeper midfield role, that allowing him to get on the ball in space and build play from there.

Gallagher was on the scoresheet twice in the 3-0 victory at Charlton, adding to the winner he notched against MK Dons in August.

The Blackburn game is the first of two derbies for North End in a fortnight, with them playing Burnley at Turf Moor on December 5.

Sandwiched in between is the visit to Fulham, more than 1,000 tickets having already been sold to date for the Craven Cottage game.

Gallagher said: “These derbies are the games you go and try to enjoy, hopefully get the three points and the bragging rights.

“A couple of weeks after Blackburn we have got the Burnley game at Turf Moor.

“I’ll probably get a few boos and jeers there – I always do with my Blackburn connections.

“But I always seem to do well against Burnley, score a goal or set one up.

“I have had a good run against them, I think that’s why they boo me so much because I always manage to do well against them.”