International breaks have been part and parcel of football’s calender for many years now but they get no easier to deal with at club level.
Clubs place their players in the hands of others for a couple of weeks and are on tenterhooks for much of the time they are away.
You could compare the feelings of a club manager to that of anxious parents waiting for their offspring to come back from a fortnight away in Magaluf.
Until the key is in the door and the suitcase dumped next to the washing machine, they won’t relax.
How many Preston fans were following the progress of the Republic of Ireland during their friendly with Turkey last week?
I would guess plenty, all willing Sean Maguire, Alan Browne and Daryl Horgan to do well but at the same time steer clear of injury.
The update on Twitter that Maguire had completed 62 minutes and been taken off in a tactical switch was no doubt met with a collective sigh of relief in the Preston postcode.
It was pleasing none the less to see the three North End players get a game for the Republic.
Maguire and Browne got their first senior starts and the 15 minutes at the end won’t have done Horgan any harm in a season when he has found a regular run hard to come by.
Preston’s Welsh duo Billy Bodin and Chris Maxwell went further afield, making the visit to China.
Bodin won his first cap as a sub in Wales’ 1-0 defeat to Uruguay – the second game of their trip.
You had to feel sorry for Maxwell in that he sat on the bench for both games.
Although he will have travelled with the knowledge of being the back-up keeper, it was a long way to go only to be an unused substitute for two games – surely Ryan Giggs could have given him 45 minutes at some stage?
Wales were 4-0 to the good against China at half-time, that might have been the time to give Maxwell the second half.
In terms of international players, PNE are probably as well stocked as they have been for a few years.
There was the era of their strong representation in the Jamaica squad with Claude Davis, Ricardo Fuller and Omar Daley.
Back then, the pre-match conference consisted of Craig Brown updating the travel plans of Fuller and Davis in particular as North End sought to have them back on time for Saturday from some far flung corner of the world.
Around that time, PNE had George Koumantarakis playing for South Africa too.
It was always a race against time to get George back on time, although some Preston supporters would argue it wasn’t worth the bother!
At least we’ve reached the stage when international commitments can be put to one side until the summer.
We are into the ‘business end’ of the season, the final straight if you will.
For PNE, part of that run in will see the fans turn back the clock on Monday when Derby visit Deepdale.
It is Retro Day, a chance to find those old Preston shirts gathering dust at the back of the wardrobe and give them an airing for the dinnertime clash with the Rams.
The build-up has already raised more than £2,600 for charity via an auction of old kits on the PNE Fans Forum Facebook page.
For some of us, squeezing into a shirt from the early 90s might have its challenges.
But it will be wonderful to see Pontins, Coloroll, Ribble Valley Shelving,Garratts, Baxi and NewReg.com given an airing.
Looking back through the old strips, my favourite is the Adidas kit of the late 1970s.
As a nipper, I got it for my birthday and I remember being quite upset a couple of years later when I was told Pontins was going to be put across the front of Preston’s shirts.
In terms of advertising on shirts North End were rather pioneering, being in a group of four clubs who were the first in England to do so.
There have been a mixed bag of kits since, some good and some not so.
You could not help but like the Hobot-made strip for the 1986/87 promotion season – the blue stripes across the collar bone.
The late 1980s offering made by a company called Scoreline wasn’t the best when it came to washing it.
After only a few meetings with hot water and Persil, the club badge began peeling off.
Ahead of the first game of the 1992/93 season, I queued outside the old club shop on Lowthorpe Road to collect a pre-ordered ‘zebra’ offering.
In hindsight, queuing for a replica of the shirt which was to adorn John Tinkler, Jonathan Davidson, Aaron Callaghan and Lee Fowler, wasn’t worth the effort was it?
A couple of years before that, North End played for a spell without a sponsor on the shirts.
That was probably retro in its own right, although was a sign of the financial struggle PNE were having at the time.
In the end, Derek Shaw came forward and sponsored the kit with Ribble Valley Shelving.
In years to come, will old kits still be looked at with the same fondness and nostalgia as they are now?
Twenty years down the line, will Nike strips, 888 and Tempobet be remembered like Pontins and Garratts?