Alan Browne insists Preston’s slide in form is not down to being in holiday mode.
Monday night’s 4-1 defeat to Newcastle at St James’ Park was their fourth loss on the bounce, a run in which they have shipped 13 goals.
After being in contention for the play-offs until Easter, the Lilywhites have dropped to 11th place – the position they finished last season in.
They have a point to find to equal the tally in 2015/16.
The dip in form has left Browne frustrated, the Irish midfielder hoping things can take a turn for the better when relegated Rotherham come to Deepdale on Saturday.
Browne said: “The boys were really disappointed to have lost at Newcastle, it didn’t matter they were a top side who have been promoted.
“At the moment we are on a bad run.
“We not in party season or party mode, we are properly focused and training like we have done all year.
“But we just cannot seem to get the results right now.
“Come the weekend we will be refreshed and ready to go again for the last home game.
“It’s certainly not the case of us being on holiday.
“People on the outside might start to think because we missed out on the play-offs, we have called it a day.
“That is nonsense, there are no extra days off, we are training hard.
“We have got something to play for – we want to improve on last season and finish as high as we can.
“That is important to us and we will aim to do that.”
Browne, 22, felt that North End had played well in the first half at Newcastle, only for a mistake to see them trail at the interval.
The game went away from them when Paul Gallagher was sent off for handball on the line, the Magpies going 3-1 ahead from the penalty spot and then quickly netting a fourth goal.
Said Browne: “We matched them all over the park in the first half but the sloppy goal we gave away before half-time was disappointing.
“We were still in the game until the red card and then it got difficult.
“Being down to 10 men in any away game is difficult, let alone against a team of Newcastle’s quality.
“We had to sit in, make sure the ball stayed in front of us and not let them turn us into a laughing stock.
“This run of defeats is hard to take – usually we are a side which bounces back and puts things right quickly.
“We might have been hit by injuries and suspensions but that is no excuse because the boys who have come in are good enough to replace those who have gone out.
“Until a few weeks ago we were exceeding expectations and in contention for the play-offs.”