Wright was always confident tide would turn for PNE

Bailey Wright revealed he and his Preston team-mates never lost faith in themselves despite their torrid start to the season.

Thursday, 24th November 2016, 7:00 pm
Updated Tuesday, 29th November 2016, 10:26 am
Wright challenges Rotherham's Danny Ward

North End lost six of their opening eight league games to find themselves firmly rooted inside the relegation zone in the early Championship table.

It was quite a shock to the system for Simon Grayson’s men, especially after enjoying such a fine first year back in the second tier of English Football after promotion from League One in 2015.

After securing a top-half finish last season, there was a real air of optimism around the club when they kicked off the new campaign away to Reading.

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However, a 1-0 defeat at the Majedski Stadium was the beginning of a nightmare start as PNE picked up just six points from the first six weeks.

However, following the embarrassing 5-0 defeat away to Brentford in the middle of September, the team has certainly found form. Only one defeat – to runaway leaders Newcastle United at Deepdale – has been suffered in the league since that shocker at Griffin Park .

Five wins have been accrued in that period, including the scalps of Aston Villa and Norwich City, who were both relegated from the Premier League last season.

North End have also taken points off Brighton and Huddersfield, who are both fancied for promotion this season.

It means North End have begun to peer towards the upper reaches of the division.

They are currently in 11th spot in the table – just three points outside of the play-off positions.

And centre-back Wright is keen to see North End to continue this forward momentum.

The Australia international said: “We set out our goals at the start of the year of what we expected and what we know we are capable of.

“Where we are now in the league is good but we want to keep aiming high and pushing forward.

“It’s been a good few months for us after a difficult start. Once we got into our rhythm, we showed what we are about.

“Once we got up and running, which we always knew we would do, we knew we would be fine.

“We’ve shown that recently and we have just got to continue that and keep building.”

Explaining the reasons behind the poor start, Wright said: “Sometimes it happens that way. We got some new faces in and again you have to adjust to some new teams in the league and the new faces.”

With the sums of money being spent this season by a number of clubs, the Championship is arguably as competitive as it ever has been. But coming up against multi-million pound centre-forwards is something Wright relishes.

“That’s what you want,” said Wright.

“More money has been spent in the Championship this season. You have got teams like Newcastle and Aston Villa, who are big clubs with big ambitions.

“They want to get back to that Premier League – as does everybody in the division, even teams who have spent nowhere near as much.

“There is quality throughout the league and it’s challenging, but that is what you want.

“We want to keep progressing – that’s why we wanted to get promoted from League One so that we could test ourselves against clubs at a higher level.”

One club which has been keen to progress in recent times are this weekend’s visitors to Deepdale – Burton Albion.

The Brewers have enjoyed a meteoric elevation up the football pyramid – rising from non-league to the Championship in just seven years.

They have enjoyed successive promotions over the past two seasons and under manager Neil Clough have made a respectable start to life in the second tier.

However, most notably, all of their four wins this term have come on their own turf and they have picked up just four points on the road.

“You look at Burton 
and their rise throughout the leagues,” said 

“They are a small club who have done really well. They are just above the relegation zone at the moment, but I think it’s still really tight throughout the division.

“They had good start and they have got a good squad of players, who are very experienced.

“I think they are one of the oldest squads in the Championship.

“You look at their players – they have got a lot of games between them, so we know it’s going to be difficult on Saturday.”

Wright made his 200th PNE appearance in last weekend’s 0-0 draw at home to Wolves.

Having joined the club as a youngster in 2009, he is the longest-serving member of the current squad.

However, his future remains unclear.

His contract runs out at the end of this season and he is yet to agree a new deal.

Wright was non-commital about the prospect of extending his time at the club.

“You will have to wait and see,” he said.