Winger Tom Barkhuizen hopes Preston North End get a chance to push for play-offs

Tom Barkhuizen hopes the opportunity comes for him and his Preston North End team-mates to play what could be the ‘nine biggest games of their careers’.

Monday, 11th May 2020, 8:00 am

It is two months since the season was suspended with 37 Championship games played.

Although the Lilywhites are working towards a return to training next Sunday, there is no word yet on when the campaign might resume.

There was a hope that games could start in early June and the season finished over 56 days. That date is getting nearer with no clear plan.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Tom Barkhuizen in action in Preston’s last game against QPR on March 7

The EFL seem to be waiting to see what the Premier League do, so it will need the differences of the top-flight clubs to be resolved before a definite plan emerges.

PNE winger Barkhuizen told the Lancashire Post: “I feel good with the fitness work I’ve been doing and would be excited to get back.

“It’s weird to think we would be going back for nine games to start with. That would be like a mini-season and we are aiming for the biggest prize we can get.

“Hopefully there would then be the play-offs because that is where we want to be.”

For the first few weeks of football’s shutdown after the season was suspended on March 13, Barkhuizen chose to have a period of rest.

He is now working his way through a fitness programme ready for any return.

Said Barkhuizen: “Early on in all this, I spoke to the gaffer and fitness coach Tom Little.

“I was very open about it and told them I needed to have a rest. The staff have been brilliant, they’ve trusted us to do the right things.

“For the last few weeks I’ve been back working and it is a mixture of fitness work that we are doing.

“I’ve been in the game long enough to know what I need to do to be fit and ready to go back, I’ve done enough 
pre-seasons.

“There have been some longer stuff to do, 8k and 9k runs, as well as the sprints. I’ve tried to make the most of getting out of the house once a day.

“My girlfriend really pushes me, she has been stressing the need to make sure I’m ready – saying it could be the nine biggest games of our careers when we go back.

“I know some of the lads have had promotions from League One but this could be massive.

“For the fitness work, I’m lucky to have some fields near where I live.

“I go running through the fields like an idiot and people walking past must be thinking, ‘What is this guy doing?’ because I don’t look like a footballer.

“It is good to have a fitness schedule to follow – that suits me down to the ground rather than having to do things off the cuff.”