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'I've got those minutes in the tank now and it's about moving forward'

Ireland international Sean Maguire is closing in on a first-team return with Preston.

Sean Maguire has been out since November with a long-term injury.
Sean Maguire has been out since November with a long-term injury.
Image: Nathan Stirk

IRELAND INTERNATIONAL SEAN Maguire is close to a return to first-team action at Preston.

After an encouraging start to life at the Championship club, the 23-year-old former Cork City striker has not played since 1 November, when he picked up a serious hamstring injury in the 2-0 defeat by Aston Villa.

However, Maguire took part in a behind-closed-doors game against Burnley at Turf Moor this week, as he nears a recovery.

Speaking to the club’s official website, the attacker, who has four goals in 13 Championship matches since joining Preston, was hopeful of getting back into Alex Neil’s side in the coming weeks.

“You can train as much as you want but match fitness is totally different. It was a good, competitive game, they had a lot of experienced players and so did we so it was a good game,” he said.

“I’ve got those minutes in the tank now and it’s about moving forward with that.

“It’s touching distance away now, hopefully in the next couple of weeks I can be back in contention for selection.

“The last couple of months has been about getting that fitness up with the fitness coach Tom Little and getting a bit of air in my lungs.

“Now I’m back in training with the squad and to get some minutes in the tank against Burnley was brilliant. Just to get the matchday feeling back, waking up in the morning and knowing you had a game, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel now and I’m just looking forward.”

Preston are currently ninth in the table, four points off the play-off spots with 12 league games remaining. The Irish youngster’s return will provide a timely boost for the Lilywhites, who still hope to secure a place in next season’s Premier League.

“I feel stronger than I was before, my hamstring feels really strong,” Maguire added. “It’s all positive and we have a lot of important games between now and the end of the season and I want to play my part in that.

We are still in contention for the play-offs, if we are still there or thereabouts with four or five games to go we will take that.

“We had a difficult result last weekend [a 1-0 loss at home to Ipswich] but that will push us forward now, we have a big three games coming up next week with two of those against teams that are around us and a derby game against Bolton on Saturday.

“I want to get back to where I was before, that’s getting myself back in the team and doing as much as I can for the squad and hopefully get back in to getting goals and assists.

“At the end of the day, it’s not about you individually, at this stage of the season we just want three points and that’s all we will be looking to do in every game.”

Maguire, who made his international debut coming off the bench in the World Cup qualifier against Moldova last October, will also hope to be involved in the Irish team’s upcoming friendly away to Turkey on 23 March.

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Paul Fennessy

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