Exclusive Andy Boyle PNE column

Competing with Joe Garner against Ipswich at Portman Road
Competing with Joe Garner against Ipswich at Portman Road

It has been similar this season to last – I’ve have to be patient in waiting for my chance in the Preston North End defence to come along.

When I first joined, it was a couple of months before I made my debut.

This season I’ve had to wait to get into the team but that chance came in the two games before the break.

I want to stake a claim for a permanent place in the side when everyone is back and hopefully I can do that.

It is down to me to show what I can do and then it is up to the manager in terms of what side he chooses.

You could say the Aston Villa game was not a gentle one in terms of being eased back into the team.

But you have to be ready when the call comes and make sure you are right both physically and mentally.

As a footballer, you want to play games – it is as simple as that.

You can train as much as you want but at the end of the day you want to be involved in the games, be in the thick of the action.

When you are out of the team, you do extra training and make sure you impress in the bounce games.

I have done that and it has been good to be back in the side.

Obviously, we have been very stretched for numbers in defence because of all the injuries we’ve had.

I’ve never know it where all the injuries have come in one position – usually when injuries hit they are spread through the squad.

I suppose that is why you have to have a big squad so that when the tough times come with suspensions and injuries, you still have the numbers.

For the second half of the Villa game though, I had 
Alan Browne next to me. It probably sums up the long injury list that we had a 
midfielder playing in the centre of defence.

To be fair to Browney, I thought he did really well on the night – he is one of those lads who would get eight out of 10 wherever he played.

The international break has given us some respite with the injuries and it came at a good time for us.

There is always the debate as to whether the break has come at a good time, but in this case it has.

We got a few days’ rest and some time on the training pitch, working on what we want to do against Bolton.

This is a busy period for us, with three games this week and then the run-up to the Christmas matches.

That is the nature of the Championship, plenty of games and plenty of twists and turns.

Friday’s game with Bolton is a big one, the chance to get back out there and start to put right recent results.

It will be a tough one as Bolton have had some good results of late and picked up a bit of form.

In training this week we have done a lot of work on our approach to the game, now it is a case of putting that into practice.

Ultimately it will be about what we do, making sure we put into practice what we have gone over in the last few days.

At the start of the break, I went back home to Ireland for a couple of days.

It had been a little while since I’d been home so it was nice to catch up with family and friends.

We went to the Irish 
FA Cup final, where my former club Dundalk played Cork City.

There was myself and Daryl Horgan cheering on Dundalk, with Sean Maguire and Kevin O’Connor there to support Cork.

We didn’t sit together, a bit of segregation was needed!

It went to penalties and unfortunately for Daryl and myself, it was Cork who won it to complete the league and cup double.

Last year, I played in the final and Cork beat us with an extra-time goal from Sean.

Dundalk had won the league though, so it was a case of sharing the medals around. Just mentioning Sean there, he has recently 
had an operation on the hamstring injury he picked up and I wish him a speedy recovery.

Sean is a great lad and he will come back stronger from this, I’m sure of that.

He will be a big miss for Preston and no doubt for the Republic of Ireland too.

That was a hard watch on Tuesday night as Denmark beat us 5-1 in the World Cup play-off second leg. We had got a great result in the away leg and there was a lot of 
confidence going into the home leg in Dublin, but it all went wrong.

Scoring early, we were thinking we had a really good chance.

From being around the squad before, I know how hard the players and staff work, so it was disappointing to lose.

I’m sure they will bounce back from this.