Declan Rudd says Preston North End have shown they are more than capable of matching the division’s big hitters and sees no reason why they can’t sustain a promotion push.
The Lilywhites were on course to beat Leeds United at Elland Road on Boxing Day until a late shot was deflected past goalkeeper Rudd and they had to settle for a draw.
It was the second time they had shared the spoils against Marcelo Bielsa’s side this season.
League leaders West Bromwich Albion only beat them with a controversial late penalty earlier in the month.
North End have beaten all three sides directly above them – Brentford, Sheffield Wednesday and Fulham.
Rudd said: “Against the top teams in the league we have gone toe-to-toe.
“We have beaten Fulham, drawn twice with Leeds when they have scored late equalisers.
“We deserved a point against West Brom. People probably don’t give us the credit we deserve.
“We go toe-to-toe with the so-called bigger teams and people forget about Preston.”
The draw at Leeds was a fourth game unbeaten for North End, it following on from a stalemate at Cardiff and victories over Fulham and Luton.
That run of results has seen them recover well from losing four on the bounce.
Rudd said: “We were always going to pull it around, all teams go through bad spells.
“It shows the character and mentality we have in the team and squad.
“We have done well to dust ourselves down from those defeats and get ourselves going again.
“Hopefully this can carry on over the rest of the Christmas period and into the New Year, and we can get ourselves close to the top two.
“It is very tight all the way down to 12th or so.
“We need to build on this run, try and breakaway from the pack.”
The immediate emotion in the PNE camp after the Leeds game was one of disappointment in that victory had been snatched away from them late on.
Rudd tried to seize on the positives though, North End so close to becoming only the second side to win at Elland Road in the league.
“The way it happened made it feel a bit like a loss,” said the 28-year-old.
“For them to equalise so late on with a deflected goal did feel a bit deflating.
“I suppose when you look at the grand scheme of things, we have to be proud of ourselves.
“We took the game to them and played ever so well.
“All credit to how we set up and the lads going about the job with no fear.
“We set up well, wanting to give it a go.
“From David Nugent up front and all the way back to the defence, everyone did their job really well.”