Brad Potts is having to be patient in his attempts to re-establish himself back in the Preston team.
It is for that reason he is more than likely going to have to start Saturday’s clash with his former club Barnsley at Deepdale from the bench.
The midfielder has yet to hit top gear this season, that a legacy of seeing his pre-season disrupted by a knee injury.
In a way Potts has been playing catch-up with his match fitness, with that limiting his chances so far.
Others in his position are playing well, hence the 25-year-old not having too many complaints about limited opportunities.
Potts underwent knee surgery at the back end of last season, halting an encouraging start to life as a North End player.
The Hexham-born player did not taste defeat in the 10 games he played after signing in January from Barnsley for £1.5m.
Although he was able to start pre-season with the rest of the squad, Potts got some discomfort in the knee he’d had surgery on.
That meant a spell off the training pitch and only limited involvement in the pre-season games.
Potts said: “I don’t think people realise how difficult it can be to come back after an operation.
“I missed a chunk of pre-season, got back for a game or two and then went straight into the side for the first match at Millwall.
“After having surgery on my knee I wanted to come back and hit the ground running.
“Something in my knee flared up though and that had to settle down – it knocked me back at bit.
“When you don’t play games in pre-season, your match fitness suffers.
“You can train all you want but you can only get match fitness through playing.
“So far this season a lot of the lads in my position have been doing well so I can’t really complain.
“Daniel Johnson has been scoring goals, Billy Bodin got a couple when he was fit and starting.
“So I can’t complain when the manager picks those lads.
“It’s a case of keeping my head, training well and impressing when I do get a chance to play.”
Potts has played nine times this season, five of those starts.
He has started two league games and three in the League Cup – completing 90 minutes in last week’s defeat to Manchester City.
On Tuesday night, he came off the bench for the last 10 minutes against Middlesbrough.
So Potts has had a part to play, his target being for that to be a bigger one in the coming weeks.
Giving his thoughts on the campaign so far, Potts said: “We have made a great start.
“If you’d offered us this position after 10 games we would have taken it.
“Everyone is pleased with how things are going but we want to build on this and carry it forward.
“Since January, the team has generally done very well.
“We had that good run in the second half of last season and have started this one well.
“The last two games have been draws and were very different.
“I thought the draw with Bristol City was a good one in that they had been going well and we were 2-0 down.
“We showed plenty of character to come back and get the 3-3 draw.
“Middlesbrough were struggling a bit but they still have good players.
“Playing Manchester City the other week was a big occasion.
“I got in the team and you don’t realise just how good the City players are until you play against them.
“When you watch them on television you don’t quite appreciate the speed they go at and you don’t see their movement off the ball which is very good.
“We want to get into the Premier League so we are playing games like that every week.”
Although it was only nine months ago that Potts left Barnsley to join PNE, the Tykes’ squad will have a much different look about it on Saturday. A number of players left Oakwell this summer including Liam Lindsay and Adam Davies who both went to Stoke, Ethan Pinnock who signed for Brentford and Kieffer Moore who Wigan spent more than £2.5m on.
Said Potts: “I watched their game on Wednesday night and there were a lot of different faces there. They have a business where they are happy to make money and a profit on players. It is quite upsetting for the fans that players leave but it’s a business.
“I’ve still got good mates there, I shared a place with Cameron McGeehan.
“Cauley Woodrow and Alex Mowatt are great lads and it will be good to have a catch-up with them after the game.
“I enjoyed my time with Barnsley and you could say I got half a promotion on my CV – they were doing well when I left to come to Preston part-way through last season
“My first Barnsley goal came against Preston the season before last, I scored in the 1-1 draw here.”