Exclusive Josh Ginnelly Preston North End column: My first impressions at Deepdale

Settling in at North End (photo: Dave Kendall/PNE FC)
Settling in at North End (photo: Dave Kendall/PNE FC)

I have been at Preston North End 10 days or so and I’ve loved every minute of it, the boys have been fantastic with me and I’m starting to find my feet around the place.

Every training session I get more understanding of the way we play and what is expected of us.

This is a new challenge for me, a step up to a new league and I’m enjoying it.

The quality of what I see in training from the lads is outstanding.

No disrespect to where I have been before but this is a higher division and what the players produce has to be of a higher quality – it’s all done quicker too.

The tactical side of things is very detailed.

I have been in the squad meetings when the gaffer has outlined what to expect from the opposition, how to go about dealing with it.

You can see how much knowledge the gaffer has and it’s good to listen to that insight as you prepare for a game.

The first two or three days here were about settling in, getting to know names and what the routine is.

That was made easy by the lads, who are a great bunch and make you feel welcome.

They all speak to you, take an interest in you and that helps you settle straight in.

Of course I’ve got my part to play in fitting in and the gaffer wouldn’t bring people in here who he didn’t think would fit in.

There are some really big characters in the dressing room but everyone chips in with their two-pence worth and it’s a good environment.

The squad is getting back to full size as the injured lads get fit and there will be some great competition for places as the weeks go on.

I’m happy to be around that and push for a place in the team.

At the moment I’m living in a hotel in the area and I’ve got the company of two of the other new boys Brad Potts and Jayden Stockley.

We rest up after training and get ready for the next day’s session.

If we want a quick chat or a bit of company, we are there for one another.

I’ve been at a few clubs in my career, which should help me settle quickly here.

As a kid I started off at Coventry City – they were my home-town team.

Aston Villa came in for me and I was there until I was 16 when they released me.

Villa was a massive club to be at, the facilities there were fantastic and there are a few of the lads here who started out at Villa too.

After leaving Villa, I went to Shrewsbury Town and I was lucky enough to make my debut for them at 17.

Shrewsbury was a great club for me, in that they gave me my chance.

Sometimes at the bigger clubs you don’t get a chance early because they can go out and sign players who are ready for first-team action.

If you go a bit lower down, they sometimes have to put a bit more trust in their youth system and will promote lads from there into the first team much earlier.

From Shrewsbury I went to Burnley and picked up more experience from going out on loan a few times.

One of those loans was in the second half of last season at Tranmere.

I loved my time there – they got promoted back into the Football League via the play-off final at Wembley, which was an eventful one to say the least.

We had a player sent off inside the first minute, and I had a bottle thrown my way when we celebrated a goal.

Even playing with 10 men for virtually the whole game, we managed to win 2-1, which was brilliant.

Tranmere are a fantastic club and I think they will get back to where they once were.

My link with Tranmere was their manager Micky Mellon, who had given me my debut at Shrewsbury.

His assistant is Michael Jackson, who I’m told was a very popular centre-half here at Preston for a number of years.

Jacko and Micky Mellon work brilliantly together and are two people who I could text at any time for advice and guidance.

As a coach, Jacko works so hard to get the best out of you, and Micky’s the same.

Jacko is a great character and the determination he used to show on the pitch is similar to how he coaches.

Last summer I moved on a permanent deal to Walsall.

That gave me the chance to play regularly at a new level and it was there that Preston saw me playing and signed me.

I’m just looking forward to getting my head down here, working really hard and being part of a great squad.

We’ve got a big game on Saturday against Swansea at Deepdale and the target is to get back on track with the results and get moving up the table.