Sean Maguire exclusive PNE column

In action against Fulham
In action against Fulham

Looking back at 2017 from a personal point of view, I would say that the start and midddle were superb but the end was not the best scenario with my injury.

I think 2018 will be even bigger, once I’m back fit in February/March hopefully there is a promotion push to be part of and there might be a couple of international games later on.

My recovery from injury is going well, I’m where I was expected to be.

It is seven-and-a-half-weeks since I had surgery and for six of those I had a leg brace on.

With muscle injuries, you can’t go too overboard with your rehab and can’t get too far ahead of schedule – it is all carefully managed with various stages to go through.

I went for a scan the other week and the specialist was pleased with how things are healing.

It is about rebuilding the hamstring muscle which was damaged, while the quad muscle in the same leg has wasted a bit which happens when you aren’t training.

I’ve got to build that up again and that is my focus at the moment.

Hopefully I’ve got seven or eight weeks to go and during that time I will be able to get out of the gym and back on to the training pitch to work on my fitness.

The injury I suffered saw the hamstring detach from the tendon.

Greg Cunningham had a similar injury although I’m told that mine was a bit less complicated than Greg’s was.

I had surgery to reattach the muscle and tendon and there are a few stitches in there which will be with me for the rest of my life.

The specialist has told me that this kind if injury rarely happens again, so touch wood, once I get back to full fitness I don’t have to worry too much about it.

Another thing which the specialist told me was that this is a rare injury and for it to happen twice to players at the same club in the space of a couple of months is very unusual.

Greg and myself suffered the injury in quite a similar way.

At Derby in August, Greg was slightly leaning over and got a push in the back, that putting pressure on the leg.

When I did my mine at Fulham, the ball was just a couple of feet off the ground and I bent forward to try and head it.

I got a push in the back and all the weight was on that leg.

At the time I didn’t think it was anything serious.

Since I started playing football professionally at 17 I’d not had a serious injury.

I thought this was just a tweak and that there wasn’t a problem.

Our physio Matt Jackson has been looking after me brilliantly since the injury.

After the operation, he gave me a bit of time off to rest and get my head straight.

He monitors the rehab work and knows what needs to be done.

Jacko allowed me to go home to Ireland for a couple of days at Christmas to be with my family.

But I’m back now and I don’t think there will be any more days off as I start to work my way towards full fitness.

The work in the gym is tough at times, rebuilding the muscle takes time.

You get your head down and do the work but there are times when you just want to be out there on the training pitch with the lads.

A lot has happened in my life this year, starting with all the good times I had at Cork City in the League of Ireland and the Europa League.

I played for two thirds of the League of Ireland season with Cork, scoring 20 goals which made me very proud.

The move to Preston came about, with me playing a bit longer at Cork before arriving here in July.

It was great to see the Cork lads go on to win the league and cup double, that was a special achievement.

To have been a part of that until July was something special, with it being the same for Kevin O’Connor who I’m delighted to see has been on the side recently and helping us keep clean sheets.

There was the experience too of playing in the Europa League for Cork for the second season running too.

The year before, we did better and got to the third qualifying round, beaten by a Genk side who went on to do very well in the competition.

This summer, we got past Levadia Tallinn and then got drawn against Larnaca from Cyprus.

Quite a few of their lads had experience of playing in the Spanish league and in the end proved a bit too strong for Cork.

You might remember that the first leg was the one when the Preston lads came to watch while they were doing pre-season training.

It’s been a busy year and hopefully 2018 will be even better.