Sean Maguire says scoring twice in Preston’s Gentry Day victory at Bolton Wanderers was a career high.
The Irish striker made his comeback after four months out with a serious hamstring injury and looked like he has never been away. He netted 12 minutes after coming on as a substitute and struck again in stoppage-time to wrap up the 3-1 victory.
Tom Barkhuizen had put PNE back on level terms after Mark Beevers’ early opener for the home side.
Maguire said: “When I was on the sidelines waiting to come on, to have 4,000 fans screaming your name was an unbelievable feeling.
“I think this was probably the best feeling I’ve had in football to date.
“Before this, I’d never been injured before, no niggles or anything. So to be out for four months and then score two goals is up there with the best feeling in my career to date.
“It was a big local derby where both teams needed the three points.
“Even when we went 1-0 down we were playing well and were the better team.
“We had to be patient and that paid off when we got back into it.
“There was a great ball from Callum Robinson to put Barky through for the first goal and then he set up my goal.
“Robbo was brilliant for us, making two assists – he is such a big player for us.”
Maguire has been back training with the squad for the last couple of weeks and played 45 minutes of a bounce game against Burnley last week to test his fitness.
Being in the squad against Bolton meant he hit a target he had set when he was sidelined in November.
Said Maguire: “I didn’t know until the morning of the game that I was on the bench.
“When the gaffer said my name obviously I was pleased. Out there my hamstring felt great and my fitness levels even better.
“Funnily enough on the first day I was injured, I said to Matt Jackson the physio that I wanted to be back in time for the Bolton game.
“We set that as the marker and to be involved in the game was unbelievable.”
Maguire said seeing Greg Cunningham return from the same injury had helped his own recovery.
“It is a strange injury, Greg thought his was cramp when it happened,” said Maguire.
“When I did mine and went for a scan, I was surprised when it showed the muscle had come away.
“The way Greg came back gave me encouragement. I saw how well he had come back and how strong his leg was.
“You’ve got to be careful with muscle injuries when you are coming back.
“I got back in 16 weeks which is good.”