PNE ace Tom’s chill factor

Tom Barkhuizen in action for PNE against Brentford
Tom Barkhuizen in action for PNE against Brentford

Tom Barkhuizen is hoping the international break will have invigorated Preston ready for Friday night’s televised clash with Bolton Wanderers.

An injury-hit North End lost four games on the bounce before the latest break, a run which has seen them slip to 14th in the Championship.

This gap in the fixture list came just at the right time, 
allowing a chance for some of the injuries to clear up and to give others a breather.

Having started all 16 of PNE’s Championship games, Barkhuizen is one of those to welcome a few days’ rest.

“It’s been good to chill out for a few days,” Barkhuizen told the Post.

“We were in for three days last week but then we’ve had a long weekend, which was very welcome.

“The manager has looked after us, made sure we have got the rest we needed while keeping us ticking over on the training pitch.

“I think we needed the break, it has just given us the chance to regroup.

“Spirits are still high in the squad, we are close-knit and we’re looking forward to being back in action.

“The Bolton game will be a tough one on Friday, they have started to find some form in the last few weeks.

“They’ve beaten Sheffield Wednesday and Norwich, which is good going.

“I would think Bolton will have a good following and I’m sure our fans will turn out to create a good atmosphere.”

Many of Preston’s injuries have struck at the back, with seven defenders currently on the casualty list.

But a big blow came at the other end of the pitch before the break in the shape of Sean Maguire being ruled out for up to four months after surgery on a serious hamstring injury.

Maguire had been part of the front line which had done well on the scoring front until just recently.

With Jordan Hugill also missing Bolton’s visit because of suspension, the onus will be on others to step up.

Said Barkhuizen: “Sean had been doing really well all season, scoring a few goals and claiming assists.

“His defensive work is also very good so obviously it is a blow that he is injured.

“But we can’t sit here and sulk, this gives someone else a chance to play.

“Callum Robinson, Daryl Horgan and Stephy Mavididi have sat on the bench waiting for their chance.

“The whole point of having a squad is that it is competitive and whoever comes in keeps us at the same level.

“I think the lads who came in at the back recently did well, it was just that we were forced to make so many changes, some of them during games.

“Whoever comes in when we play Bolton will be looking to do well and help get us back on track.”