PNE star aiming to use play-off defeat as motivation

Jack King
Jack King
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Jack King expects the sparks will fly during the first few weeks of Preston North End’s pre-season training.

The squad report back to work on Thursday as they begin preparations for the forthcoming League One season.

Utility man King admits he is still hurting at the way the previous campaign finished.

North End’s dream of winning promotion to the Championship was ended at the play-off semi-final stage when they were beaten over two legs by Rotherham United.

And King is expecting to see a lot of pent-up frustration being released when he and his team-mates start stretching their legs once more on the training pitch.

“Personally I still haven’t got over it,” King told the Evening Post.

“I don’t think you ever really get over it until the new season starts.

“We’ve got to get it out of minds and then we can focus on the job next season, which is to get automatic promotion.”

Although the class of 2014 went the way of previous teams who have fallen foul of the dreaded North End play-off curse, King believes the experience the squad gained last season can only benefit them this term.

And combined with the signings manager Simon Grayson has made during the summer, the 28-year-old is confident promotion can be achieved – preferably by finishing in a top-two spot.

He said: “We felt comfortable going into the play-offs last season.

“But we just did not turn up for whatever reason in the two games against Rotherham unfortunately. We did not play well in either game. But we went into the play-offs confident after the season we had.

“I think everybody would have said that we had the best squad of players out of the four teams.

“So we were confident that we were going to win them and get promoted.

“But Rotherham fully deserved to beat us...they had the rub of the green in the second leg when they needed it.

“Full credit to them, they played well against us, did a job on us and went on to win promotion.

“But we feel we can improve and that’s the challenge for us now, to improve upon the points total from last season.

“If we can improve just by a few points then that should see us go up automatically.”

King – who is confident the problematic stress fracture in his foot will be fully healed by the start of the new season – is looking forward to meeting up with the club’s summer acquisitions.

He believes they will relish playing at Deepdale and working under Grayson.

“The manager’s record at this level speaks for itself,” he said.

“He is enjoyable to play under – he gives you a lot of freedom to go out and play your game.”

Tickets for Preston’s Capital One Cup first-round tie at Spotland, which takes place on Tuesday, August 12, are on sale.

Adults are priced at £15 with £10 for concessions. Junior tickets cost £5.