Exclusive Ben Pearson PNE column

In the heat of the battle at Wolves last Saturday
In the heat of the battle at Wolves last Saturday

The last couple of years here was about making our status in the Championship a solid one and seeing how far we could go.

This season there is a real belief that something good can happen.

If it’s not this year, then in the next couple of years I’m convinced Preston can push on and get to the Premier League.

We have got a good blend of lads here, if you look at the starting XI it is usually quite a young team with a few of the experienced players mixed in there.

It can get tough for a team if it is just full of kids.

I know that it can be done with a young team but you need your older heads in there – they know when the team needs to take their foot off the gas and know when to give a helping hand.

We’ve got a couple of the more experienced lads in Greg Cunningham and Tom Clarke, ruled out by injury at the moment.

But they are still massive in the changing room and a big part of what we do here.

On the outside, things like that might go unnoticed but as a squad we understand the importance of it.

An important player for us this season has been Paul Huntington.

Hunts is the skipper at the moment and he is great lad to have on the pitch.

He is always talking and is actually better on the ball than a lot of people give him credit for – he knows when to get rid and when to play.

This is a division which Hunts know well and he’s a big part of what we do. As a captain, he’s been absolutely brilliant.

We are back at Deepdale this weekend and it seems ages since we last played at home.

For the rest of the lads, the Sunderland game was the last one here but for me it was Reading in August.

I missed all of the games in September because of my injury, and the two matches since I came back were at Fulham at Wolves.

My fitness is building up. After getting an hour against Fulham I got through the full 90 minutes – plus everything else which was added on – at Wolves last week.

In the last 20 minutes at Wolves I was tiring and probably would have been substituted had we not been on top of the game like we were.

The momentum was with us at the time so it was right for the gaffer to leave things as they were and see if we could get an equaliser.

It was a big thing to play 90 minutes, mentally as much as physically.

I’ve been back training 10 days or so now, so add that to the time in the games and it all helps.

That said, however much training you do, playing in a match is always different.

It is a different kind of stamina which is needed.

Brentford on Saturday and Aston Villa during the week, are two big home games for us.

We were disappointed not to get more out of the last two away matches but we only lost the Wolves one so our confidence has not really been dented.

Really we wanted three or four points from Fulham and Wolves, and we were so close to winning at Craven Cottage.

Had we held on, it would have been such a big result.

We want to keep up with the pack so it is important we start winning again.

This season, more than any, you can see that anyone can win on their day in this division.

It seems evenly matched, whereas in previous seasons there have been teams such as Newcastle and Brighton who have pulled away.

Wolves are top of the table at the moment and they are supposedly the best team in the Championship.

However, we ran them close last week and on the day they weren’t anything special.

Earlier in the week, I signed a new contract here until the summer of 2021.

It was an easy decision to make and when both sides want it happen, things get done pretty quickly.

I had quite a while left on my previous contract but with the direction Preston are going in, this was just something I wanted to do.

The club is heading in the right direction and if we keep our best players and make quality additions in every transfer window, we have as good a chance as anyone of getting promoted. Quite a few of the other lads have signed new deals in recent months, so that to me is a sign that we all know what can be achieved here.

When I came here from Manchester United, I stepped down a division but I always felt that by signing for Preston I had an opportunity to get back to the Premier League with them.

With the new manager coming in and how we are doing, we’ve every chance.