Departing John Welsh's Premier League prediction for PNE
John Welsh predicts Preston can challenge for promotion next term to continue the year-on-year improvement he has witnessed over the last six seasons at Deepdale.
The midfielder will seek pastures new this summer after reaching the end of his contract but that will not stop him supporting his former team-mates from afar.
He has played a big part in North End’s rise from League One to the upper reaches of the Championship.
Welsh, 34, hopes they can now take the next step and reach the Premier League.
“Every year we seem to have got better and I can see that continuing,” said Welsh.
“With what the manager demands and with the staff here, they will only improve.
“It is a young group and this has been a big year for them, the majority of them have played 30-plus games so there is a natural improvement.
“I’m sure the gaffer will get things to where he wants, I’m optimistic and I’m a fan now.
“I’ll get back to watch the lads as much as I can and give them my support.
“Hopefully they will invite me to the promotion party and then I can see them play in some massive games in the Premier League.”
Chances were limited for Welsh in his final season at North End, when he made just 11 appearances.
The last of those was the 1-1 draw with Wolves at Deepdale in February.
Injuries hindered him and Welsh admitted he faced some strong competition for a slot in midfield.
“It was a struggle to cement a place in the team recently,” said Welsh.
“If you look at the people in my position, you can perhaps see why.
“Ben Pearson is arguably one of the best midfielders in this league. Alan Browne won all the awards, while DJ is one of my favourite players to watch.
“Gally’s experience and quality shines through and Josh Harrop is going to be a massive player for Preston.
“This was his first season here and he got better as the season went on.
“I had a few injuries through the season which was a bit unlucky and made things difficult.
“But the fire has never gone – even watching the games the passion was burning.”
Welsh is on the lookout for a new club and believes there is plenty more to come.
The Liverpudlian said: “I will be speaking to agents and seeing what comes up.
“I have got a lot to offer to football and think I have a good few years left in me.
“My plan is to get a club, get fit, crack on in pre-season and be successful somewhere else.
“There is a new challenge out there, the next chapter.
“I take with me so many great memories.”