Exclusive Brandon Barker Preston North End column
I signed for Preston on loan five weeks ago and in that time I have settled really well, loved the training, got to know the boys well and got a few appearances under my belt.
The gaffer has eased me into it rather than play game after game, he’s been looking after my body to make sure I didn’t pick up an early injury as can sometimes happen.
A big part of my game is my pace and sometimes you get hamstring injuries and muscle problems because of the speed you run at.
So this settling-in spell has helped me adapt to the pace of it all, let me get to know the style and play and what the gaffer expects of the team.
This is my third season’s loan from Manchester City in the last three years.
Last season I played for Hibs in Scotland and that was a great experience.
I do see coming here to Preston as a step up because the Championship is the division before the Premier League and it is such a hard league to get out of.
Most teams seem to have a chance of doing well, there are a lot of contenders.
In Scotland it is different with just three or four clubs in realistic contention.
But don’t get me wrong, it was great to play up there and every game was tough, a really good battle.
It was class at Hibs – we had a really good team, a great bunch of boys.
During the season we put in a lot of good performances week in, week out.
In Neil Lennon we had a good manager who spurred us on and made sure we did not rest of our laurels.
A couple of the lads went on to get good moves on the back of how they played last season and hopefully Hibs have a good year this time.
Our form last season saw Hibernian qualify for the Europa League, which was a decent achievement.
All the games were good ones to be involved in, with the derby against Hearts the big one for us.
They tended to be very close games and I think it was two wins each in the league last season.
The games against Celtic and Rangers were obviously big ones too.
Edinburgh was a great city to live in and I’ll always be grateful for Hibs giving me the opportunity to go there.
The season before, I was at NAC Breda in Holland on loan.
That was a bit different and again an important life experience which will stand me in good stead.
I’ll admit that I found it quite tough because I was very young and it was a big thing going to live and play in a different country.
I didn’t come home very often – I got back three or four times – so that wasn’t great to be honest.
Six of us went over from Manchester City but we lived separately.
That meant it was easier when our families came over, they could stay with us.
NAC Breda was a good club, a good place to be and a learning curve.
At the time we were in the Dutch Second Division and we got promoted.
They have fantastic fans and it was good to play in front of them.
We all got game-time which was what we wanted and the important thing about going there.
Living away wasn’t really for me but I’m pleased that I did it and I can say that I lived abroad for a season.
After being in Holland, it made going to Scotland last year much easier.
This season I’m living in Manchester and can travel in to Preston in no time.
During these loan spells, Manchester City keep a close watch on us.
I think they have been two or three times already to watch Lukas Nmecha and myself here.
City have a good team of people who monitor the loan lads wherever they are.
Ahead of us here are a group of games over the next three weeks which are going to be really important.
This is a run when we could do with scooping a lot of points up which would help us climb the table.
I don’t think we are too far away from clicking into gear.
The performances have been there but maybe we haven’t taken advantage when we have been on top in games.
We could do with being a bit nastier in front of goal, be more ruthless when chances come our way.
Hopefully I can chip in with a few more goals to help the other lads out.
Reading at home and then Leeds away are massive games and hopefully we can put in the performances to take the points.
We enjoyed our last trip to Leeds in the League Cup the other week and I wouldn’t mind scoring another goal like the one I did that night.