Preston North End striker Sean Maguire off the mark for the season after a twist of fortune

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There are twists and turns in football, good fortune and being unlucky.

In midweek, the plan was for Sean Maguire to spent much of the Carabao Cup clash with Cheltenham on the bench.

It was a chance for the striker to grab a breather, perhaps get 20 minutes at the end to stretch the legs.

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When the night ended for Connor Wickham very prematurely because of a hamstring injury, Maguire came off the bench to resume what is looking a promising partnership with Emil Riis.

Both strikers were to get their names on the scoresheet, for Maguire that being the first time since the end of December.

A timely boost then ahead of Saturday’s visit to Birmingham City, a venue where Maguire scored the winner two years ago.

The Irishman might not have got the rest he had anticipated but he is up and running for the campaign.

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Maguire said: “It felt nice to score. When I wasn’t in the team at the start of the season it was disappointing.

Sean Maguire celebrates scoring for Preston North End against Cheltenham at Deepdale in midweekSean Maguire celebrates scoring for Preston North End against Cheltenham at Deepdale in midweek
Sean Maguire celebrates scoring for Preston North End against Cheltenham at Deepdale in midweek

“Since I got back in the team I felt like I’d done really well and all that was missing was a goal.

“So it was nice to get that goal on Tuesday night and the timing of it was quite important.

“At the time it was 2-1 and Cheltenham had been causing some problems.

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“I was thinking they could grab a second goal and take it to penalties but my goal made it 3-1 and pretty much killed them off.

Sean Maguire in action for PNE against Sheffield UnitedSean Maguire in action for PNE against Sheffield United
Sean Maguire in action for PNE against Sheffield United

“That was me off the mark for the season and it was another game where I could build the understanding with Emil.

“The more game time we have, the better our understanding will be.

“Emil got another goal, that’s seven for him this season.”

Maguire would rather his chance to get on the pitch and open his account for the season had come in different circumstances.

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The injury suffered by Wickham on his full PNE debut was rotten luck to say the least.

It seems like a damaged hamstring will keep the former Crystal Palace and Sunderland striker out for some length of time.

Maguire has had his fair share of hamstring issues and feels a great deal of sympathy for Wickham.

“It is so important we rally round Connor and support him,” said Maguire.

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“It was tough watching that from the sidelines I’ll have to admit.

“At first I just thought he had suffered a deadleg after the guy came through him.

“He’s tried to run it off and obviously wasn’t able to continue.

“I’m not too sure what has come back from the scans but Connor has been through a lot.

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“He saw it as a fresh start for himself here and did well when he came on against West Bromwich Albion last week.

“Connor is a different type of striker to the ones already here.

“I know what it is like to get injury after injury, you need a good support system behind you and a lot of people with positive mindsets.

“He’ll get through it and hopefully come back stronger and better for it.”

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The Cheltenham win stretched PNE’s unbeaten run in league and cup to seven matches.

Their last three in the Championship had been draws, so turning those into a victory at St Andrew’s this weekend would be welcome.

Said Maguire: “We are unbeaten in a few games, there have been three draws in the league but they were decent ones.

“We drew at Bristol City which is a tough place to go, drew 2-2 with Sheffield United which was a game we could have won.

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“West Bromwich last week was a tough game but we got something from it.

“Those draws have bred confidence and now we need a win.

“I like playing down at Birmingham, it is a good atmosphere there. The reason I really like it is that we’ve always taken a good support with us.

“One of my early games was at Birmingham, we were 1-0 down at half-time and then scored three quick goals to win it.”

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