After a month of inactivity, Paul Gallagher is eager to see action in Preston’s clash with Derby County at Pride Park tonight.
The midfielder was last on the pitch in the goalless draw at Barnsley on February 4.
A bout of sciatica kept him out of the next three games, then he was an unused sub against Queens Park Rangers and Fulham.
With PNE looking to hit back from Saturday’s 3-1 loss at Fulham, and the fact they are chasing a first away win since January 2, Gallagher could get the call at some stage against the Rams.
“I’m ready for a game and have played a lot of football in my three-and-a-half years here,” said Gallagher.
“When the team is doing well, sometimes you have to be patient and wait for your chance to come.
“The manager has always made a point of telling the lads who aren’t playing that they have to be ready for when their chance comes along.
“This is a team game and not about any individuals.
“It has been a few weeks since I last got a game.
“I had a bit of sciatica, which ran in my hamstring, quad and lower back, so I missed three games.
“I was back on the bench for the last two and was about to come on against QPR when Jordan Hugill put the ball in for the winner.
“When we scored it was a case of sitting back down and keeping the boots clean for the next game.”
If he features at Pride Park, 32-year-old Gallagher will be in opposition to his former Leicester team-mate David Nugent – someone who Preston fans adored in his time with the Lilywhites.
Nugent landed at Derby last month in a big-money move from Middlesbrough and is set to start against North End.
“Nuge, or the Nugget as I call him, has had some good moves in his career,” said Gallagher.
“He works hard for the team and is an unselfish player.
“I saw that he played up front on his own and I’m not sure he will be used to that, as he always played in a two when we were at Leicester. I know that he was a fans’ favourite here and Preston got good money for him when he moved on.
“Last Tuesday night I went to watch Derby play at Blackburn.
“They weren’t too good on the night but neither in all fairness were Blackburn, but it was Rovers who got the win.
“Derby won on Saturday and will have taken plenty of confidence from that.
“We know that it is going to be tough at their place.
“They have a big support who demand results so if we can get the crowd on their back early on, that could play a big part.”
Gallagher watched from the bench as PNE went down to a 3-1 defeat at Fulham on Gentry Day.
He was impressed by the way the home side played, something North End had witnessed first hand last summer when the clubs shared the same training base in Ireland.
“It was very difficult for us at Fulham – they are a good team who I think will make the play-offs,” said Gallagher.
“They are very well drilled,. We went to the same place as them in pre-season and we saw how they were drilled to play.
“You can see that has paid off with the way they move the ball and their rotation – it was very impressive.
“I thought we had a good 10 or 15 minute spell when we got at Fulham and pulled the goal back.
“But Fulham kept going and got the third goal, which was very disappointing.
“What we have always done here is bounce back in a positive manner after a defeat.
“In this league, there is often another game which comes around quickly in which you try and put things right.”
One positive at Fulham was a goal in his first PNE start for Tom Barkhuizen, a player who has already been on the end of Gallagher’s brand of humour.
“I call him ‘envelope’ as he floats on the pitch like an empty envelope which has been caught in the wind,” said Gallagher.
“Tom glides around, goes one way and then the other.
“There was a moment in the QPR game when he went to go one way but moved the other to go past one of their defenders.
“I think he must weigh about two stone, that’s all – he is so light.
“Jokes aside, Tom has done very well for us over the last few weeks.
“He is willing to learn which is a big thing.
“It was a good goal which he scored at Fulham, he showed his pace and took the shot quite early which didn’t give the goalkeeper time to set himself.
“In other games Tom has played well as a substitute.”