Fit-again Tom Barkhuizen is focused on proving his worth to the Preston team again after signing a new contract.
The winger has undergone knee and wrist surgery over the last few months and is now building up his fitness ready for the 2019/20 season.
He will go into the campaign with the ink drying on the three-year contract he signed in Ireland yesterday.
It is a significant piece of business done by North End to secure Barkhuizen, with him having been in the final 12 months of his previous deal.
He has steadily become a vital cog in PNE’s works, the loss of him for the final two months of last season to a knee injury proving significant.
His willingness to track back and defend, combined with his attacking duties, were traits sorely missed.
That emergence as a team player is the side of his game which Barkhuizen thinks has improved the most in his time at Deepdale. The 26-year-old told the Lancashire Post: “I’ve been here two-and-a-half years and have developed in that time.
“When you first come to a club it is about establishing yourself as a player, you try and stamp your authority and show what you can do.
“Then it becomes more about the team and how you fit into it.
“In my time at Preston I have become more a team player, that’s been a big part of my development.
“I’m more than happy to do the dirty work of tracking back and defending, I’m willing to take responsibility.
“Going the other way I want to get in behind the defence and get on the ball.
“I enjoy scoring goals and setting them up, using my pace is a big strength.
“I’ve become more aware of what is needed from me and I aim to carry on improving.”
Barkhuizen’s agent had been talking for a while with PNE about a new deal.
Common ground was reached at the end of last week with it all finalised yesterday at Fota Island where North End are on a training camp. Said Barkhuizen: “Friday was kind of the big day, it was then that it got agreed.
“There were then just a few details to be finalised and they got sorted yesterday so it was good to go.
“I’d always wanted to stay here – in the conversations I had with the manager I’d made that very clear.
“It probably took longer than I had expected but it’s done now.
“I’ve been here at Preston for two-and-a-half years and this deal takes it beyond five years which is good.
“I’m getting my fitness at the moment, I had the surgery on my knee last season and I’ve been back training for the last couple of weeks.
“We’ve had the two games against Bamber Bridge and Cork which have helped with the sharpness and getting the rust off.
“At the end of the season I had the operation on my wrist too – that was a problem I’d had for a while.
“I’ve still got to wear the strapping on it for another four to six weeks. Hopefully then I will get the all-clear not to have to protect the wrist.”