PNE’s Sean Maguire confident ahead of Barnsley clash

Preston North End striker Sean Maguire says confidence in the dressing room has never been higher.

Alex Neil’s men look to continue their seven-game unbeaten run on Saturday against struggling Barnsley.

PNE haven’t lost at home in the league this season, having seen off Wigan, Stoke, Sheffield Wednesday and Brentford on home turf.

Their only dropped points at Deepdale came last weekend in an entertaining 3-3 draw with Lee Johnson’s Bristol City.

And Maguire reckons team morale is the best he has ever seen.

Maguire commented: “We have a big squad and a lot of quality with players not even making the bench.

“It brings that competitive edge in training because you know you can’t stroll around and think you’ll walk into the team on Saturday.

“You have to work your socks off and once you get that chance you need to take advantage.

“The last few weeks the gaffer has made one or two changes every game and the boys who have come in have done a brilliant job, so long may that continue.”

North End come into the game at Deepdale off the back of a 1-1 draw at Jonathan Woodgate’s Middlesbrough.

PNE boss Alex Neil said the players were disappointed after the result, a point the Irish striker agrees with.

He said: “It shows how far we’ve come as a squad that we’re disappointed going to a club like Middlesbrough and coming away with a point.

“Coming away with a point isn’t bad though and we are seven unbeaten now so we can take the positives from the game going into Barnsley at the weekend.”

Barnsley have won just one game this season and sit in 22nd place but a late Cauley Woodrow equaliser against Derby last night means Daniel Stendel’s side go into Saturday’s clash with increased confidence.

And Maguire is well aware of the threat the Tykes will pose.

The Irishman added: “They’ve had a tough patch at the moment and have only won one game all season but they got a good draw against Derby.

“Brad Potts (signed from Barnsley last season) knows a lot of the boys there and if he does have any information he’ll be glad to tell us.”

Republic of Ireland boss Mick McCarthy (above) was without the services of Maguire for the last international break (Credit: Danny Molyneux, Wikimedia Commons)

Maguire has recently worked his way back into the side after a short spell out with a freak eye injury suffered in training.

Maguire was hit by a ball and temporarily lost the sight in his left eye, meaning he missed out the whole of the last international break and a place in Mick McCarthy’s Republic of Ireland squad.

Thankfully, though, Maguire is now fully recovered from what he described as the “fright of his life”.

The 25-year-old said: “It was only a case of giving the injury 14 days rest and thankfully I got over that.

“It was a freak thing just a couple of days before I was supposed to go away (with ROI).

“I’m fully focused on Saturday’s game but after that there’s two massive qualifiers for us against Georgia and Switzerland.”

Maguire’s versatility has been praised by club boss Neil, and the frontman has found himself playing up top and on both flanks this season.

David Nugent (left, playing for Leicester) has combined well with Maguire in recent weeks (Credit: Ben Sutherland, Wikimedia Commons)

Speaking on his role in the team, Maguire said: “I’m really enjoying it (on the left), playing off Tom Barkhuizen and David Nugent.

“I’ve had a bit of freedom coming inside and swapping with Josh Harrop so long may that continue.

“I’ve had three goals and three assists from the left so I’m hoping to bring that form into this weekend and then into the international break – hopefully I can score a couple of goals and get the three points.”