THE MAGIC’S BACK

How Ai­den McGeady has re­cap­tured his best form at Pre­ston North End

The Football League Paper - - INSIDE: - By Luke Baker

BY HIS own ad­mis­sion, Ai­den McGeady was fall­ing out of love with the beau­ti­ful game while trapped at Ever­ton.

But, with reg­u­lar play­ing time, as­sists, goals, a player of the month award and po­ten­tially a late play-off charge, he is a man re­vi­talised at Pre­ston.

Fol­low­ing just 14 league starts in two and a half years for Ever­ton, McGeady had sur­passed that to­tal with North End by the end of Jan­uary after join­ing on a sea­son-long loan last sum­mer.

The mid­fielder could hardly have got off to a bet­ter start at Deep­dale as he scored 64 min­utes into his de­but against Barns­ley in Septem­ber, but he has gone from strength to strength ever since.

Re­vi­talised

His form cul­mi­nated in a spec­tac­u­lar Fe­bru­ary, when he helped the Li­ly­whites to three wins and two draws, in­clud­ing a vir­tu­oso dis­play of two goals and an as­sist in the 4-2 tri­umph over Brent­ford.

And, after be­ing named Sky Bet Championship Player of the Month for Fe­bru­ary, the 30-yearold is feel­ing on top of the world again.

“I’m just happy to be play­ing ev­ery week be­cause I’ve had a stop-start cou­ple of years at Ever­ton,” said McGeady. “I was out of the team, not in the squad and lost the love of football a lit­tle bit. But I’ve been re­vi­talised this sea­son and that’s credit to the man­ager (Simon Grayson) and the club.

“I’ve been en­joy­ing my football and there has been no added pres­sure on me to do things I don’t do. I can just go out and play.

“It’s nice to be train­ing all week and look­ing for­ward to Satur­day again. It has been good to get that feel­ing back again.

“It’s al­ways nice to be recog­nised with awards, so I’m de­lighted to pick up the player of the month as well.”

McGeady has made no se­cret of the fact he be­lieves his Ever­ton ca­reer is over. If he has it his way, the Repub­lic of Ire­land in­ter­na­tional’s loan will be­come per­ma­nent and he will be with Pre­ston for the long haul.

“I’ve still got a year left at Ever­ton, which is a prob­lem we’ll have to over­come in the sum­mer,” ex­plained McGeady. “But I’d like to stay here if ev­ery­thing could be agreed. I’m play­ing the best football I have done in a long time and I think next year could be re­ally spe­cial.

“We’ve got a good squad, a lot of young play­ers and the re­cruit­ment has been pretty shrewd.

“We maybe don’t have as much money as other teams in the divi­sion, but we’re per­form­ing well. So, a cou­ple of new ad­di­tions in the sum­mer and there’s no rea­son why we couldn’t be push­ing for those pro­mo­tion places.”

Strug­gle

A run of just four de­feats in the last 21 games ahead of the week­end has pushed Pre­ston to the fringes of the play-off con­ver­sa­tion, a year ahead of sched­ule.

But, while he hasn’t com­pletely given up hope, McGeady ac­knowl­edges that a 3-1 loss to fel­low top-six chasers Ful­ham last week­end has left them with an up­hill strug­gle to pull off an un­likely pro­mo­tion.

“We’ve qui­etly snuck up to where we are now – not too far off the play­offs,” added McGeady. “If we’d had a bit more luck in terms of turn­ing a cou­ple of draws into wins, we’d be in there. But the top six teams have been con­sis­tent all sea­son.

“I’m not say­ing the play-offs are def­i­nitely out of our reach but the Ful­ham game put a bit of a dent in it.”

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Im­ages

MOVER: Ai­den McGeady wants to cut his ties with Ever­ton RECOG­NI­TION: McGeady’s dis­plays for Pre­ston have earned him the Sky Bet Championship player of the month award

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