Play-off near miss will spur Preston North End on next season says midfielder

Midfielder Ryan Ledson insisted Preston’s play-off near miss will add fuel to the fire when the new season begins next month.

By Craig Salmon
Friday, 21st August 2020, 8:00 am

North End will find out who they will face on the opening day of the Championship campaign today when the fixtures are released.

And Ledson – who yesterday agreed a new deal to remain at Deepdale until 2023 – believes the experience of just missing out on a top-six spot last season will stand him and his team-mates in good stead for the future.

North End were in a play-off position when the campaign was interrupted due to the Covid-19 pandemic with nine games of the season to go.

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Ryan Ledson has extended his deal at PNE

Unfortunately, when football restarted in June, Alex Neil’s men were unable to hold on to their play-off – two points from their first four games giving them a mountain to climb.

Although they recovered to pick up eight points from the next five games, they eventually finished in ninth spot, four points off the pace.

“The first game back at Luton really killed us,” said Ledson. “I thought we looked comfortable in that game and to concede so late was a killer.

“It was tough to take but missing out on the play-offs adds fuel to the fire to obviously get there this year.”

Ledson arrived at North End in 2018 and has gone on to feature 45 times in a Lilywhites shirt.

Last season was slightly disappointing as he saw his minutes on the pitch limited due to the experience and form of players such Ben Pearson, Daniel Johnson, Alan Brown and Paul Gallagher.

But at 23, he feels he is now approaching his peak years and is targeting a regular spot in the team.

“I have really enjoyed my time here,” he said. “I definitely have improved as a player, there’s no shadow of a doubt about that.

“The first season I was here it was a bit up and down. It didn’t help me getting sent off twice.

“Last season was a little frustrating but we were flying weren’t we?

“We were top of the league in November and sometimes you just have to bide your time and wait.

“When the team’s doing well you have got to be happy for the lads and do your bit.

“I managed to get in the team towards the end and I feel like I did well, so hopefully I can carry that form on.

“I am heading into my peak years as a footballer and hopefully I can get some games under my belt at Preston and show what I can do.”

Ledson revealed that when the new fixtures are released, it’s always an exciting time for the players.

“It makes it feel real again,” he said. “You can start counting down to the first game.”