Wright’s Championship dream

Bailey Wright wants to get back to the Championship with Preston
Bailey Wright wants to get back to the Championship with Preston
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Bailey Wright is determined to help Preston get back into the Championship after being part of the squad which left that level of football four years ago.

The defender had a brief taste of English football’s second tier in his breakthrough season at PNE, making two league appearances as a substitute.

He has built up a great deal more experience since then in League One, with 139 games for North End, three Australia caps and a trip to the World Cup under his belt.

If the Lilywhites win at Colchester on Sunday, Wright’s wish to be a Championship player again will be fulfilled.

That is the simple maths of the trip to Essex – three points would make them unreachable in second place.

Anything less and Preston’s fate is in the hands of MK Dons, who play Yeovil Town.

“I have seen a lot go on here over the last few years – this is my sixth year since I arrived as a kid,” Wright told the Evening Post.

“It was in 2009 that I joined. We were playing Championship football then and it would be great to see the club get back there.

“This is a massive club with the stadium and infrastructure.

“I have seen how much the fans want to be back in the Championship and the players are the same.

“The club has had a bit of bad luck over the last few years but it has been getting back to winning ways.

“Every player wants to be part of a winning culture and that has been developing here over the last couple of seasons.

“I was on the bench the day we got relegated four years ago and I just want to make up for that by helping us get promoted.”

North End head to the Weston Homes Community Stadium on the back of an 18-game unbeaten run in the league.

Wright has featured in 16 of those matches, the two he did not play being the first match in that run against Coventry in February and March’s visit to Fleetwood.

The unbeaten run came after a poor January in which Preston did not win a league game.

Said Wright: “January was a tough month but we knew if we continued to work hard and trying to do the right things, it would start to go our way again.

“From the start of February we have been on a good run and all the hard work will be worth it if we win on Sunday.

“There is nothing achieved yet, it is great to have gone 18 games unbeaten but only by winning at Colchester can we make sure of promotion.

“Did we think we could go on such a good run and get ourselves into second place?

“We must have believed that we could get there because we didn’t let our heads drop and start making excuses.

“Instead we worked hard and the players in the squad have been pushing each other for places in the team.

“Had someone offered us second place, and a point’s lead with one game to go, we would have taken that.

“We have good players and the right people here to get us to where we want to be.

“Why we didn’t have a good January, I’m not too sure.

“Every team will have a stage during the season when they are not at their best or maybe not getting the results they deserve.

“In January we weren’t at our best. We came through it, there are no bad eggs here – just a good group of boys who all want the same thing.

“The players and staff have kept believing in what we are doing, maybe we tweaked a few things with bits of our game plan.

“But in the end it has all come down to determination, hunger and how much we want it.

“It is now down to what happens on the last day of the season and it is in our hands.

“We know how important this game is, that is a no-brainer.”

A groin injury meant Wright spent a three-month chunk of the season on the sidelines.

He carried problems in both groin muscles into the start of the campaign after being at the World Cup with Australia last summer.

His movement was clearly hindered by the injury in the first two months of the campaign, and he eventually underwent surgery in London in October.

Any visit to the operating theatre and the subsequent rehabilitation work is hard for a footballer to take at the time.

But Wright saw the longer-term benefit and that has paid off with his run in the team.

“It was frustrating having to have the operation but it was something I had to have done,” said the 22-year-old.

“No one likes being out injured but getting it sorted was the best thing I could have done.

“Being told I would miss three months of the season wasn’t great to hear at the time but if I had not had the operation, I wouldn’t have been able to play my part at this stage of the campaign.

“My first game back was the 
FA Cup tie with Norwich at the start of January but even then I was not fully fit.

“I had another few weeks of work and started to get my run of games from Chesterfield away onwards.

“I have played in every game since then apart from Fleetwood when I was away with Australia.

“People have worked hard to keep hold of the shirt in that time and selection has been very consistent.”