Declan Rudd's exclusive Preston North End column: Why we're looking upwards

Our form over the last two or three months has been very good and it is a run we will be looking to extend over Christmas.

Thursday, 20th December 2018, 12:00 pm
Making a save against Nottingham Forest at the City Ground
Making a save against Nottingham Forest at the City Ground

You look at the matches coming up and know that with a few good results we can really pull away from that bottom group of clubs.

If we do that, we can then start to look up at the teams above us and try to catch up with them.

Maybe we are better off chasing them rather than us being up there and looking at what is coming up behind.

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There is still a long way to go this season and who knows what can be done?

Last season we nearly made the play-offs, so why can’t we have another go at it this time?

Our improvement in form shows the character we have in our squad.

If we didn’t have that sort of character and the belief in ourselves we would still be sat down there at the bottom of the table.

Even when the results weren’t happening, we had the belief we could pull it around.

The manager never seemed to look like he was worried, his confidence in us shone through.

We’ve pulled ourselves up and now we can go one of two ways – push upwards or get dragged down again.

I think we can keep on climbing the division but we need to prove that out on the pitch, not just talk about it.

Our injury list has been a major talking point and we are having to deal with some big players being out.

A lot of them are players who would be considered starters in the first team.

It shows the strength in depth we have got, in that we have still been getting through games and putting good results on the board.

The squad is stretched but we have been coping.

Being injured is part and parcel of competitive sport, football is a physical game and injuries happen.

I had three or four months out last season with a thigh injury, so I know what some of the lads are going through at the moment.

You come in every day for treatment and see the others going out to train.

Then you head to the gym to do your work and let me tell you, the Springfields gym is not the warmest place to be in winter.

Sometimes it seems colder inside than it is for the lads outside – you pick up a weight and it sticks to your hand because it is cold!

When you get an injury you have to use the time to get yourself right and get into an even better shape than you were previously.

You can come out on the other side of it better for an injury as long as you stay positive.

The other week, I made the mistake in the game at Birmingham which got a lot of attention for the wrong reasons.

That is the life of a keeper – make a mistake and it will get highlighted more than any other position.

Make a mistake and it will lead to a goal. Make a great save and you get told that you are just doing your job.

You get used to that as a keeper and that is why you can’t let mistakes get to you.

How you respond to the mistakes you make and how you play in the next game is the big thing.

A striker will miss a great chance from close range and not much gets said – they can go and redeem themselves by scoring the winner.

That’s the way it is, when you pull the gloves on you know what you are dealing with.

We are now just a few days away from Christmas and for us it is a big part of the season.

It’s a working period for us, we will be in for training on Christmas Day morning and then play Boxing Day.

I’m used to it, I’ve been in every Christmas Day since I was 15.

We train fairly early on Christmas Day which means we get home at a decent time to be with our families. You can enjoy the rest of the day and then get focused on playing on Boxing Day.

This will be the first year that my daughter really knows what is going on at Christmas and that is really exciting.

She’s nearly three and is starting to get the idea of it.

We’ve been using the Elf on the Shelf and that is doing wonders for behaviour!

My son is nine months old so he won’t understand what is going on and why there are presents in the house.

Will there be goalkeeper gloves for them? No Way!

I’m going to steer them clear of being a goalkeeper and probably get them into some other sport. One goalkeeper in the family is enough.

Hopefully Christmas can be good on and off the pitch this year. A win on Saturday at Sheffield Wednesday would be a good start!