Exclusive Joe Rafferty Preston North End column: Full-back switch fine by me

I have been enjoying my spell playing as Preston’s left-back and have not found it too difficult to switch to the other side of the pitch from the right-back position.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 12th September 2019, 3:00 pm
Updated Thursday, 12th September 2019, 4:00 pm
Celebrating scoring against Swansea at the Liberty Stadium last month
Celebrating scoring against Swansea at the Liberty Stadium last month

It is a case of doing all the things you normally do but on the other side.

The slight difference is that I tend to come inside a bit more rather than go on the outside because I’m right footed but I can use my left well and I’ve been known to have a swing with it.

Left-back is a position I have played a good few times in before, not loads, but enough to know the role quite well.

I was needed to play there early in the season because Andrew Hughes got an injury and Josh Earl had gone out on loan and also got injured.

We needed to fill a gap and I got asked to do that.

I didn’t want to just make the numbers up, I wanted to go into the side and do really well.

We work hard every game and there is no point just being in the team, you want to do well and contribute.

The gaffer gives me a few little pointers – where I need to be on the ball, where my passes should potentially be going.

But the majority of the time it is just common sense, using your brain on the pitch, knowing what the team needs from you.

I suppose that playing in a different position should come quite naturally because I have changed a few times during my career.

When I was a boy I started off as a striker, would you believe? Every kid wants to score goals and I was just the same.

I always remember Jamie Carragher saying a few years ago that no one grows up wanting to be Gary Neville!

When I was a kid I scored goals and at the time I was faster than most of the other lads in my age group.

As I got older there were others better than me up front and I started to move back on the pitch.

I played centre-back at Liverpool’s academy for a while and then moved to right-back to test myself more.

Liverpool is my home city and I signed for the academy when I was aged nine.

I grew up in a family where some were Liverpool fans and others supported Everton.

My dad and two older brothers were Everton fans, while my mum and myself were Liverpool supporters.

I don’t know why it was Liverpool for me but that is how it turned out.

Playing at Liverpool was superb, I loved my time at the club. The academy was only five minutes from the house and when I got in the youth team I used to get the bus to training.

My youth team manager there to start with was a guy called Rodolfo Borrell who is now on Manchester City’s staff with Pep Guardiola and Mikel Arteta.

Then it was Steve Cooper who is now the manager at Swansea City, Mike Marsh his assistant was also with him at Liverpool.

So from a personal point of view, it was nice to score at Swansea last month.

My scoring record is not the best – it probably works out at one a season – so to get one early this time was a big bonus. Hopefully I can go on to double that!

I spoke with Steve Cooper and Mike Marsh after the game down there and it was good to have a catch-up.

Funnily enough on the night I signed for Preston in January, there was a youth team game at Deepdale.

I did all the paperwork and then went up to watch some of the game.

There was a tap on my shoulder and there was Mike Marsh sat behind me, asking if I’d just signed.

He was made up for me and wished me all the best on joining Preston.

I’m nicely settled here now and it is a great club and squad to be part of.

In the morning I travel in with my fellow Scouser Ryan Ledson and Tom Barkhuizen who lives in Liverpool – we let Tom in as long as he buys us a coffee now and then.

David Nugent isn’t part of the Scouse car school, he’s near enough lost his accent now and lives in another part of the world. Nuge is a great lad though. Hopefully he will be back soon.

This weekend it will be nice to get back to play after the international break.

Having last weekend off was good, a chance to catch up with the family and spend time with them.

After the busy start to the season, it was also a chance to rest and get the strength back in the legs.

As we have done well in the cup, it’s been quite a busy Saturday-Tuesday schedule, which does test you.

Overall it’s been a good start to the season, I would say that in the majority of the games we have given a good account of ourselves.

The home record is strong and hopefully we can keep that going against Brentford.