John Welsh is ready for his fifth season in a Preston shirt and eager as ever to battle for a midfield slot.
The 32-year-old faces some stern competition for a place, with Paul Gallagher, Daniel Johnson, Alan Browne, Ben Pearson and Liam Grimshaw for company in the PNE squad.
It is a challenge Welsh is happy to meet as he looks to add to the 157 appearances he has made since signing for the Lilywhites in 2012.
“After Bailey Wright, I think Paul Huntington and myself are the two longest-serving players,” Welsh told the Evening Post.
“I have loved every minute of it at Preston and I would like to think I can play a couple more years here.
“We have a great set of lads here, a good core to the squad which has helped get us to where we are now.
“In midfield, there is a vast amount of young talent together with Paul Gallagher who is a similar age to me.
“That level of competition is needed to bring the best out of the players.
“If someone doesn’t do their job, there is always someone else to come in.
“I might be one of the oldest here now but I’m still learning new things.
“We have had younger lads come in from other clubs who have brought new ideas.
“I have learned things from them and they have taken on board stuff that I do.
“I’m enthusiastic to carry on learning and add things to my game.
“Look at Gally last season, he changed his position and was one of our best players. Whatever age you are and experience you have, you should still be looking to learn and improve.”
After a couple of breaks in the sun and a family trip to Ireland, this summer’s holidays are over for Welsh.
He is well on with his fitness programme ahead of the return to pre-season training a week tomorrow.
Said Welsh: “Our fitness coach Tom Little gave us a programme to do during the summer break.
“It involves a lot of interval running – for example, you will do a three-minute burst and then have a minute’s rest, then increase to four minutes and so on, building up.
“The idea is that it is similar to what you will be doing in pre-season.
“I also like to get out on the road for a longer jog, be out there for 45 minutes or so to get a sweat on.
“It is not long now before we are back for pre-season.
“I stopped counting a while ago as to how many I’ve done but pre-season training is a big part of the job.
“Most footballers will tell you it is the one part of the year they don’t enjoy.
“Once you get the first couple of weeks out of the way and the friendly games start, it gets better.
“Some of the lads do enjoy the running side of things.
“The game has developed over the years, players are a lot fitter and it is important you keep your fitness up ready for when you come back.”