Defender Joe Rafferty eyes league games after re-joining Preston North End’s squad

Joe Rafferty has set his sights on a slice of Championship action after being brought back into the Preston North End squad.

Saturday, 30th October 2021, 8:00 am

The right-back played only his third game of the season on Wednesday night when PNE were beaten by Liverpool in the Carabao Cup.

Those three appearances have all come in the cup and until recently the chance of playing in the league was closed to him.

Rafferty was not included in the squad registered at the start of September with the EFL for Championship games.

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Joe Rafferty is aiming for a first Championship appearance of the season

But earlier this month he became the 25th member of the squad, replacing the injured Connor Wickham.

The 28-year-old hopes his hard work in training can open the door to involvement in league matches.

Rafferty said: “It was very frustrating not being in the squad because I want to play as often as possible every week if I could.

“I ended up in the squad soon after the last round of the Carabao Cup.

“Before that it was really frustrating not having anything to fight for.

“Now that I’m in the squad I actually have a chance to play on a Saturday.

“I want to fight for my place, especially with us not doing so well at the moment.

“Any player will tell you how frustrating it is when you’re not involved. When you do make the squad, it makes it a lot easier to keep your head.”

Rafferty admitted the mood in the squad had been low of late, last week’s derby defeat at Blackpool seeing the team heavily criticised.

The much-better display against Liverpool can hopefully be a tonic for the Championship games ahead, starting against Luton today.

“The lads have been a little bit down of late, beating themselves up a bit after a bad performance,” said Rafferty.

“We’ve had a few words as a squad, we know we need to get back on track. We haven’t been playing well enough, it’s as simple as that, we know that.

“There’s only us who can sort this out, we are the ones going on to the pitch.

“We’ve got a mindset to do as much as possible to get ourselves playing well and picking points up.”

Rafferty’s involvement in the Liverpool game was a big one for him, having spent his youth career with the Reds.

“I was made up to play, as soon as the draw was made I had it in my mind that this would be my next game,” said Rafferty.

“I’m a big Liverpool fan, I was there for a long time.”

One of the ball boys getting Divock Origi’s shirt after the final whistle didn’t escape Rafferty’s attention.

“I was going to two-foot him to try and get the shirt myself,” Rafferty joked.