Jordan Hugill hopes Preston’s four-game unbeaten run can be the foundation for a push towards the top six.
After a grim few weeks in October and November, the Lilywhites have found their form of late.
Wins over Bristol City and Queens Park Rangers, coupled with draws against Bolton and Norwich, have helped North End climb up to 10th place in the Championship.
They are six points behind Derby who occupy the final play-off slot.
Preston head to Burton on Saturday before returning to Deepdale for back-to-back home games against Sheffield United and Nottingham Forest before Christmas.
Their Christmas games are at Barnsley on Boxing Day, Cardiff on December 29 and then against Middlesbrough at home on New Year’s Day.
Top scorer Hugill sees this period as a key stage of the campaign.
Hugill told the Post: “The run-up of the games into Christmas is very defining for the year.
“There are lot of games coming thick and fast.
“If you put a few good wins together, you’ll shoot up the league and put yourself in a good position for the second half of the season.
“We had a bit of a hard time recently but it was just a blip, every team has them in the Championship.
“It is such a competitive league that you’ll see teams at the bottom of the league beat teams towards the top.
“Unfortunately, we were on the receiving end of ours with a lot of injuries that came our way as well.
“Everyone has them, so it’s how you react and bounce back from it.
“Anyone can beat anyone in this league on their day.
“It’s a tough league and quite demanding. If you’re not on it from the first whistle, you can get done two or three.
“That is what happened to us against Ipswich.
“If you go into a game thinking, ‘We’re better than this team’, they could come at you.
“We’ve had our blip quite early and got it out of the way.”
Hugill admitted that PNE needed to work hard to earn their 1-0 win against QPR, the striker scoring in the 88th minute.
The visitors went down to 10 men in the 22nd minute when Jamie Mackie got a red card for a foul on Tom Clarke.
But it took North End most of the game to break through a stubborn QPR rearguard.
Said Hugill: “You could sense the fans’ frustration, you can definitely hear what’s going on.
“It’s one of those things – we’re there to get the job done and if it means it’s not pretty, it means we have to do it.
“It might not be pretty, but at the end of the day it’s three points.”