Exclusive Sean Maguire PNE column: Goals are my aim now

Having a shot in Preston's draw with Swansea at Deepdale
Having a shot in Preston's draw with Swansea at Deepdale

Coming on in the last two games has been a big plus for me and my aim now is to get a run of games and goals under my belt.

The injury I have come back from was a grade-two tear in the hamstring which is normally a four-six weeks job but myself, physio Matt Jackson and fitness coach Tom Little all came to the conclusion that I should take an extra couple of week to make sure it was 100%.

I was involved from the bench in our FA Cup tie with Doncaster and then I got on at the back end of last week’s league game with Swansea.

That was 20 minutes or so in each game and I felt good being out there.

I’ve been training for the last three or four weeks but what I need now is the match fitness.

Being honest, I probably haven’t been 100% match fit since before the big injury and operation last season.

I felt good in pre-season, as sharp as I have ever done but I couldn’t say I was 100% match fit because we hadn’t played any competitive games.

You can train for weeks and months but playing in a game is very different.

In a game you will do things which you don’t do in training.

I do take it as a positive that it is not the same injury reoccurring.

Every time it has been a different muscle or part of the muscle.

Yes, it’s annoying that it is the hamstring but it’s not the same area again and again thankfully.

I’ve been doing all sorts of work to help get back to full fitness and sharpness.

I’m doing stretches at home all the time, I come in half-an-hour before the other lads to train.

For the last three or four weeks I have been trying yoga – if yoga doesn’t help me physically, it is helping me mentally.

I want to be going into training and games feeling confident, so the mental side of it is important.

Now I’m back playing, I want to score goals – that is the big part of my job.

I haven’t found the net since pre-season and it was the Leeds game in April that I last scored in the league.

To be fair, I’ve only started three games this season and come on in four.

When I was playing in those games in the autumn it was in the win at Bristol City where I thought I showed a few glimpses of what I’d been about last season.

I’m not saying I was back at my best in that game but there were signs of where I was previously.

Unfortunately it was after that game that I picked up the injury while playing for the Republic of Ireland.

Hopefully I can play some part now in our game against Queens Park Rangers this weekend.

We’ve got quite a decent record down there and long may that continue.

We need to start winning because we haven’t won a game since December 15.

There have been a few draws since then and that was our downfall a bit last season – we drew too many games which we should have won.

Against Swansea last week I know we were down to 10 men for the last few minutes but I thought we could have won it.

I had a couple of 
half-chances which I should have put away.

The squad is now looking a lot stronger, with a lot of the injured lads back.

We’ve got the four new lads in too. Over Christmas we were really struggling, with 10 or 11 players injured and four lads from the 
youth team on the bench.

Hopefully with more of the senior players back, we can gel as a team and get on a good run.

Our league position isn’t great at the moment but there is plenty of time to pick our form up.

You look at Hull City as an example.

When we played them at their place in October and drew 1-1, they were second-bottom of the table.

Now after a great run of wins, they are in sight of the top six.

This week saw my former international boss Martin O’Neill named Nottingham Forest manager.

Martin is a real legend at Forest and it looks like Roy Keane is going to join him there too.

Aitor Karanka left Forest in a decent position, just a few points outside the 
play-offs.

Mick McCarthy has taken the Ireland job and he’s touched base with myself and the other Irish players here.

The next international break isn’t until March and that is not something I have thought of too much.

My focus is on getting in the team here, scoring goals and staying fit.