Utility man Jack King believes he and his Preston North End team-mates have the strength of character to be a success this season.
After a run of eight successive victories in all competitions in September and October, Simon Grayson’s men were brought back down to earth with a bang when they suffered three league defeats on the trot.
Lesser teams may have buckled after those setbacks but North End – who face former boss Darren Ferguson and his Peterborough United team at London Road this weekend – have responded in the best way possible by going on another unbeaten run.
Since losing to Bradford City at Deepdale in the middle of November, PNE have won four and drawn two of their next six games.
They currently occupy a play-off position in League One but are only four points behind league leaders Bristol City.
A route through to the FA Cup third round – where they will host Norwich City next month – has been safely negotiated after wins over non-league Havant and Waterlooville and Shrewsbury Town.
And a trip to Wembley is now just two games away after North End defeated Notts County 1-0 at Meadow Lane in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy on Tuesday night.
PNE will now face Walsall in the two-legged northern area final, with the first match scheduled at Deepdale on January 7.
“A feature of the way we are is, if we do get setbacks – like when we had the three defeats – we do bounce back,” King said. “Weaker teams, once they get defeated, go on winless runs and losing runs.
“We have bounced back from those setbacks – and bounced back in style.
“We will be looking to carry that on over Christmas and into the new year – and kick on from there in 2015.”
King came in for his first start against County since the last round of the JPT at Oldham Athletic.
Although he has found himself on the substitutes’ bench for many of PNE’s league games this season, the 29-year-old has featured from the start in every round of the competition.
He would dearly love to keep his place for the area final and help the club reach the final at Wembley against either Gillingham or Bristol City.
“For any player at this level, there are not too many opportunites to play at Wembley,” King said.
“There are even players in the Premier League who may never get the opportunity.
“It’s a chance to win silverware and it’s a good competition.
“Most definitely, we want to go and win it at Wembley.
“But we want to get the job done against Walsall.
“It’s still in the back of our minds the defeat we suffered to them earlier in the season and we want to put that right.”
Meanwhile, North End’s League One home clash with Leyton Orient has been moved to Friday, January 16 (7.45pm) for Sky TV.
And the JPT northern area final first leg against Walsall at Deepdale will also be on Sky on January 7.