Home is where the heart is for Preston North End midfielder Ben Whiteman after long-haul trips

Ben Whiteman was glad to have a bit of time to himself and his family after going up and down the country with Preston North End of late.

By Tom Sandells
Thursday, 17th February 2022, 4:57 pm

The midfielder has continued to be a key man at the heart of PNE’s midfield, the deeper role that is tasked with orchestrating their play.

Trips like Swansea, Millwall and Peterborough have come and gone, clocking up some serious mileage.

Despite playing three times a week more often than not, the games are not the tough part for the 25-year-old.

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North End’s Ben Whiteman

He said: “It was lovely to have the start of the week off, it’s been so hectic going up and down the country and we got a positive result at the weekend so the manager gave us the Monday off.

“It was well-earned and well-needed, to spend some time at home with your family and relax, try to take your mind off football.

“There were loads of late nights and early mornings, the boys then came in well refreshed and ready to focus on this game at the weekend.

“The travelling is probably the most difficult thing, the away fans do it as well, it’s tough.

“You’re getting in at three, four o’clock in the morning and it can be tough.

“But it is part and parcel of the job and that’s why you need that Monday off when there is a chance to.

“My body is fine, rest and recovery is a massive part of football. I think next season is going to be just as intense because of the World Cup as well.

“The body is fine and I’m looking forward to the game at the weekend.”

PNE welcome Reading to Deepdale on Saturday in the Championship (3pm) in a bid to start winning some of their home games.

They have drawn their last four in PR1 but points away from home have helped relieve any pressure that not winning at home could bring.

Whiteman wants to see a little more cutting edge when playing at Deepdale but takes heart from the performances his side have been putting in.

“It’s massive to be playing at home, especially since the new manager has come in the fans have been a different class,” he said.

“The way that the manager wants to play, as a possession-based team now, you do understand when they get a bit frustrated.

“It’s just about them sticking with us and seeing the benefits on the pitch.

“We just need to be a little bit more clinical at home.

“Games that stand out are like Bristol City at home, we weren’t good enough in the first half and we know that, in the second half was there a reaction and Emil scored right at the death.

“Sheffield United we went down to 10 men and Birmingham we scored in the last five minutes.

“I’m sure it’s going to come. The main thing is to take in the performances too, the performances have been good. If we can turn those performances into wins we will be fine.

“Last season, there were no fans but it did feel like the season was fizzling out, with the teams we were playing against as well.

“You were going into games with nothing to play for.

“Why not go for the play-offs?

“We’re focused on trying to achieve as many points as possible in the remaining games and then we’ll see where that takes us.”

Reading are currently trying to fight off relegation and drew 0-0 with fellow strugglers Peterborough United in midweek.

Whiteman doesn’t feel the league table fairly reflects the quality at the Royals and knows that North End will have to be at their best in order to get a result, and keep their push for the play-offs alive. “They’re in a massively false position.

“Obviously they got points deducted but when you look at their squad on paper, the likes of Lucas Joao up front and John Swift, they’re a stacked with quality and we’re going to have to be on our game to perform and get the three points.”