Age is just a number for Preston North End midfielder Paul Gallagher
Paul Gallagher might be the elder statesman of the Preston North End squad but he does not feel age is catching up on him at all.
The midfielder, who turned 35 last month, has featured in all of PNE’s 11 Championship games this season – starting eight and coming off the bench in the other three.
Another appearance is set to come Gallagher’s way when North End make the trip to the Madejski Stadium to face Reading on Saturday.
With 583 career games under his belt, Gallagher should not have a problem reaching 600 and pushing well beyond that with the way he feels.
Gallagher said: “There have been times when I’ve seen older players walk in the day after a game and it looks like they’ve just come out of hospital with the way they were walking.
“Touch wood, I’ve not had a serious injury and the morning after a game I feel fine.
“I look after myself well, I’m probably one of the last to leave here with doing ice baths, massage and yoga – anything to get me ready for the next game.
“I have to train every session, my body is not tuned to limited training.
“I always remember when Jermaine Beckford was here, he would only train on a Friday and then score a hat-trick on the Saturday.
“Then he wouldn’t train again until before the following game.
“I used to think, ‘How do you do that’?
“If I miss a few sessions because of an injury or a knock, I always think that I’m playing catch-up.
“I like getting lots of work into my legs, I want to be out there playing football.
“I will always be at the front of the running, I’ve always been a good long distance runner. Over time I’ve adapted my position – I’ve played as a striker, off the front, on the right, on the left, in a deep midfield role and even goalkeeper.”
Gallagher will see two familiar faces in Reading’s technical area.
Mark Bowen landed the Royals’ manager’s job earlier in the week and will be assisted by Eddie Niedzwiecki.
Both were coaches at Blackburn Rovers when Gallagher was there.
Said Gallagher: “Mark Bowen was under Mark Hughes at Blackburn.
“He’s brought in Eddie Niedzwiecki who I rate highly as a coach.
“I enjoyed his training at Blackburn and the one disappointment for me at the time was that I didn’t play as many games as I would have liked.
“When a new manager comes through the door he tends to get a reaction from the players so this game will be tough for us.
“We’ll got down there prepared and ready in a bid to get three points.
“It’s not very long ago that Reading reached the play-off final and that just shows how quickly things change – managers come and go, so do players.
“Not long ago Reading had Jaap Stam in charge and we played them on the first day of the season.
“That day we couldn’t get out of our half at times, they were really good.
“A couple of managers have come and gone since, it’s not been that stable.
“For me, stability is so important.
“I look at things here at Preston. I’ve been back six years and have only had two managers in that time.
“We’ve been fortunate to have managers who have had us playing well and getting results.”
Gallagher and his PNE team-mates have strung together some strong form over the last two months.
They are unbeaten in eight Championship games and the 5-1 win over Barnsley carried them up to third place in the table.
If Preston can bring home something from Reading which has not been a happy hunting ground of late, it would set them up nicely for the two home games next week against Blackburn and Leeds.
Said Gallagher: “It’s been a good start but it’s only a start and there is a long way to go.
“If you look back 12 months we were in a dire situation at the bottom of the league.
“So the results we’ve had so far this season have been encouraging.
“Last year we had a few injuries and suspensions which didn’t help us.
“This season we have kept players fit and kept more discipline. From that we are reaping the benefit.
“We enjoyed the win against Barnsley before the break – a big victory like that was coming.
“Performance-wise, we played it to a tee and the only complaint was that we conceded the goal.
“We’ve had other good home wins like that, it wasn’t the first.
“I remember beating Bristol City here 5-0 and we beat Cardiff 3-0 when they were flying a couple of years ago.
“What we are not doing is getting carried away by how we have started.
“There is a long season ahead and we have to keep our standards high.
“This group has in the main played together now for two or three seasons and you can see that.”