Preston North End striker Callum Robinson pleased to be in the heat of a play-off battle on his return from injury

Callum Robinson in action for Preston against Blackburn
Callum Robinson in action for Preston against Blackburn

Callum Robinson is delighted to have returned to action in time to be involved in Preston North End's battle for a play-off place.

PNE were in 16th place when Robinson ruptured a hamstring tendon in November, an injury which sidelined him for nearly four months.

Preston striker Callum Robinson

Preston striker Callum Robinson

Earlier in the season when North End were struggling for form, it was Robinson who was one of their few shining lights.

He then played a key part in helping them turn the corner in the autumn as they hit a nine-match unbeaten run.

Robinson scored six goals in seven games, only for his hamstring to go.

North End dipped in form over Christmas but it’s been a steady rise since early January.

As Robinson counted down the weeks to making a return, his team-mates put together a run which carried them from lower mid-table and up into the play-off chase.

“It’s been great to get back fit and come back to a positive atmosphere around the training ground,” said Robinson.

“To get the chance to be involved in a push for the play-offs is a dream come true after being out for long.

“The lads have done so well to get to where we are and it will be nice to push on from here.”

When he was out, did Robinson foresee a charge for the top six being on the cards?

“The lads had the two big away wins at QPR and Stoke and you could see the gap close a little bit,” said Robinson.

“Myself and Alan Browne had a little bit of banter at the time, with Browney saying we would get close ready for me to return.

“They’ve certainly done that, the lads have obviously turned things around big time. It’s been said that we have done it going under the radar.

“No one really talks about us, we don’t get the television ratings that some clubs do.

“We like it that way, it helps that we can go about things quietly.”

Saturday’s opponents Reading need the points at the bottom end of the table as much as PNE need them higher up.

Hence it could well be an exciting afternoon at the Madejski Stadium.

Robinson, who scored in the reverse fixture at Deepdale in September, says the importance of the game cannot be played down.

“Reading is a big game, it’s the next one and we want the three points,” he said.

“Then we have got the three games against those big teams above us.

“ If you are going to do well and get there, you are going to have to get the better of some of the big teams.

“It is not just about those games though, there are more after that.

“There is no point putting all of your energy into a group of games and then easing off in the ones after that.

“It is going to take a good set of results to get into the play-offs, so we need to be switched-on in every game we play.

“What could help us is that we came close to the play-offs last year, so

we have a lot of players who have experience of this.

“It’s not just the older lads who have been here before, there are a large chunk of lads still here from last season.

“Some of the small details you need in a play-off push, we will know about this year.

“In certain games last year there might have been things we didn’t do.

“We can learn from it, and with this gaffer we have lot of details about the teams we are playing.

“I think we have a good chance of making it but we have to show that out on the pitch between now and the end of the season.

“It’s something we are all looking forward to and are excited about.”