Vermijl looking forward to Sheffield Wednesday return with PNE

Vermijl made a welcome return to the starting line-up against Burton Albion at Deepdale last Saturday
Vermijl made a welcome return to the starting line-up against Burton Albion at Deepdale last Saturday
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Marnick Vermijl knows there will be a little extra spice when he returns to Sheffield Wednesday as a Preston North End player.

The Belgian isn’t alone in that fact, the 24-year-old one of four PNE players who are familiar faces to the Hillsborough crowd.

Aiden McGeady, Stevie May and Tommy Spurr are all also former Owls while visiting North End fans will get a look at ex-Deepdale men Adam Reach and Ross Wallace.

“If you go back to a former club you always want to do well,” said Vermijl.

“You want to do the best you can do, there’s just that bit of extra motivation.

“The club treated me with respect at every opportunity.

“I’m just happy that I can play for Preston North End now and hopefully we can go there and get the three points.”

Vermijl and Reach were both on loan with the Lilywhites last season and Simon Grayson made no secret of the fact he wanted both to remain with the club this season.

As it turned out, only the former came back, signing a permanent deal while the latter left Middlesbrough for Wednesday in a deal that could rise to £7 million.

On Saturday, they could be directly in opposition with Reach having dropped to left back under Carlos Carvalhal while Vermijl made his first start since injuring his hamstring at Brentford in September in the 1-1 draw against Burton Albion on Saturday on the right wing.

“They’ve got a pretty big squad down there but I reckon Adam will be in the team,” he said.

“It just depends whether he’s left back or left wing position as to how we’ll face up.

“I’m looking forward to it.”

Facing Wednesday is overdue for Vermijl who was ineligible for the 3-1 defeat at Hillsborough in October last year.

“I was really gutted last year that I couldn’t play in that game,” he said.

“We were on a really good run before that and then to go out of the team because you can’t play in that particular fixture was disappointing because you always want to play every single game.

“I’m just really looking forward to the game on Saturday.”

Now a fully-fledged PNE player, Vermijl has had a stop-start season having signed on transfer deadline day.

The hamstring problem halted his progress, but the full back is now feeling fully fit having started against Burton last time out.

“I came here and started the games and then unfortunately did my hamstring away at Brentford,” he said.

“I’ve been working hard to get back to 100 per cent fitness and I think I’m there now.

“I’m just trying to do my best to stay in the team.

“I can’t feel my hamstring any more so it’s all good.”

Vemijl featured on the right wing against Burton and while admitting he prefers his more conventional full back role, he relished getting the chance a little further forward having scored off the bench in the win at Rotherham.

“It’s a bit similar because I’m an attack-minded full back,” he said.

“This just takes you that little bit higher up the pitch.

“In some situations you will struggle a little bit 
because at full back you’re used to running into space rather than being there already and you just need to adapt a bit to the position.

“I prefer the full back position but I’ll play wherever the gaffer needs me.”

Whether he gets the nod on the right-hand side of midfield this weekend remains to be seen, the Belgian also offering an option as a wing back.

Vermijl knows whatever side goes out will be in for a tough test against last season’s losing play-off finalists who have strengthened again this time around in a bid to reach the Premier League.

“We know it’s going to be a difficult game,” he said.

“If you look at the how well they did last season and then they’ve spent again, however many millions over the summer.

“It’s a massive team, they’re one of the big spenders in the league.

“But with the squad that we have and what we’ve got in our dressing room we can make it very difficult for them.

“Against the top teams we always seem to be able to do a little bit more too.

“We played the (then) top four in October and you can see the results that we had against them.

“I don’t see why we can’t do the same again.”

That record against the top teams could be key to a fine season for the Lilywhites with Vermijl more than optimistic about the prospect of success at Deepdale come May.

“We didn’t play at our best over the last couple of weeks but we still had chances to take the three points,” he said.

“We were just unlucky not to get them.

“If we had, we’d be right up there but I think we’ve been doing really well this season and if we get the points on Saturday we’re in touching distance again.

“We just want to end up as high as possible.

“If you look at our position now I don’t see why can’t look up.

“We’ve already proven we can beat the teams that are up there, we’ve just got to try and do our best and see where it takes us.”