Preston North End player column: Ali McCann discusses his first month at Deepdale and playing for Northern Ireland

It’s a month since I signed for Preston North End and in that time I’ve settled in really well and I feel a big part of the squad and the club.

Friday, 1st October 2021, 8:00 am

Away from football, I’ve got myself a place to live which was important to me.

You don’t want to be living out of a hotel for too long, so I got a few recommendations from the lads here and people I knew in the area.

I’m about 15 minutes drive from the training ground in the morning which is great.

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Preston North End midfielder Ali McCann

Football-wise, I’ve been coming on as a substitute in the league games and then I started the Carabao Cup against Cheltenham.

That was a good team performance from us and got us into the next round where we’ve got the big tie against Liverpool.

It’s great to be involved and hopefully there is a lot more game time to come.

The dressing room here is a very welcoming place.

Driving in for my first day a few weeks ago, I’ve got to admit that I was quite nervous – a new club down the road.

I needn’t have worried, from the first introductions the lads made me so welcome and helped me settle in.

There are some big characters in the squad, the Scouse lads for example.

There are no cliques, it is one big group and you can see that in the way we play.

Liam Lindsay is the only other Scot in the first-team squad, so there are a few accents I’ve been getting used to.

I was born in Scotland and raised there but I play for Northern Ireland – my dad is from there.

International football wasn’t something I had thought of until I was 18 or 19 but then Northern Ireland got in touch and I was buzzing. They showed that they wanted me and I was bang up for the challenge. I’ve not looked back from there.

After the QPR game on Saturday, I’ll be joining up with the Northern Ireland squad for two World Cup qualifiers against Switzerland and Bulgaria, both away.

The last time I was with the Northern Ireland squad was when my transfer here was happening.

On transfer deadline day I was in a hotel in Belfast and people were rushing around to get the deal done.

It was a weird day, things were on and off for most of the day and then started to get busy later on.

I took quite a few phone calls from my agent and the people here as things got sorted.

It was stressful because it was others having to do all the work.

Once it was all done, I put the phone down but I knew it would be more than a week before I came to Preston as I had international games.

It was only after the final Northern Ireland game that I was able to turn my attention to my new club.

I flew back to Scotland, sorted out a few things at home and then it was in the car to drive here to meet up with the squad.

It felt more real then and that’s when it kicked in that I had a new club and a new challenge to look forward to.

Things should be a lot less stressful this international break, just the two games and no transfer stress!

After the break, there are a big run of matches for Preston. I’ve heard all about the Blackpool game and the rivalry there is.

I’m looking forward to experiencing that and hopefully being involved.

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