Kevin O’Connor backs Preston team mate Sean Maguire to return as good as ever

Preston North End's Kevin O'Connor in action
Preston North End's Kevin O'Connor in action

Kevin O’Connor has backed good friend Sean Maguire to pick up from where he left off when he returns from his hamstring injury.

The Preston striker went under the knife on Tuesday and is set for three to four months on the sidelines.

The injury brought a flying start to life in the Championship to an abrupt halt, Maguire having scored four goals so far this season.

“Thanks to everyone for the messages the past week, everything went well,” Maguire posted on Instagram yesterday.

“Now I’m determined to come back a stronger and better player!”

His form was such that he was set to play a part in the Republic of Ireland’s World Cup play-off against Denmark this week before being ruled out.

O’Connor, who joined his Cork City team mate in swapping the League of Ireland for Deepdale in July, is confident however that Maguire will bounce back.

“He was flying at the time and obviously it was a big setback for him,” said the left back.

“He’s one of my best mates and it was disappointing but when he comes back he’ll be flying again. That’s just the player he is.

“He was excellent before it happened and I’m 100 per cent sure he’ll be excellent after it again.

“He was in the squad for the internationals and that was a bit of downer for him but if they get through and he gets back to the form he was in there’s no reason he shouldn’t be on that plane to Russia.”

While Maguire has been an instant hit since joining the Lilywhites, O’Connor has had to be patient.

He made his debut off the bench against Aston Villa before being handed a first PNE start in the 3-0 defeat against Ipswich last time out with Alex Neil’s squad fully stretched by a raft of defensive injuries.

After the Portman Road reverse the pair headed back to Ireland to watch Cork make it a league and cup double and pick up their own League of Ireland winners’ medals.

“It’s been a mad couple of days,” O’Connor said.

“Getting a start on Saturday was great. The result wasn’t what we wanted but personally it was a great moment.

“We flew home after the game and went to the cup final and that was a fantastic day.

“I was delighted for the boys and John (Caulfield, Cork City manager) invited us down onto the pitch and showed us off to the fans after.

“Then when we went back to Cork he met us at the training ground and gave us our medals and we got to see the trophy for the first time.

“That was a great moment. For me it was three-and-a-half years of hard work and I was delighted to get my hands on it eventually.”