EX-PNE star SEAN GREGAN’S EXCLUSIVE COLUMN

Preston North End's Tom Clarke vies for possession with Shrewsbury Town's Bobby Grant, centre, and Shrewsbury Town's Liam Lawrence''Photographer Chris Vaughan/CameraSport''Football - FA Challenge Cup Second Round - Preston North End v Shrewsbury Town - Saturday 6th December 2014 - Deepdale - Preston'' � CameraSport - 43 Linden Ave. Countesthorpe. Leicester. England. LE8 5PG - Tel: +44 (0) 116 277 4147 - admin@camerasport.com - www.camerasport.com
Preston North End's Tom Clarke vies for possession with Shrewsbury Town's Bobby Grant, centre, and Shrewsbury Town's Liam Lawrence''Photographer Chris Vaughan/CameraSport''Football - FA Challenge Cup Second Round - Preston North End v Shrewsbury Town - Saturday 6th December 2014 - Deepdale - Preston'' � CameraSport - 43 Linden Ave. Countesthorpe. Leicester. England. LE8 5PG - Tel: +44 (0) 116 277 4147 - admin@camerasport.com - www.camerasport.com
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It is safe to assume that Preston North End manager Simon Grayson will be keeping his fingers crossed for one of the Premier League big guns when the draw is made for the third round of the FA Cup.

Having got themselves through the first two rounds, now would be a great time to make some proper money out of the competition.

The aim for this season is promotion, so for me, the cup is now about a big game for the supporters and bringing in some revenue.

Just think what a financial shot in the arm it would be at the start of January if North End got drawn against a side like Chelsea, Manchester United or Arsenal.

Grayson would then have a decent amount of money to go and spend in the transfer window.

If they were not to draw a top side home or away, the next best thing would be one of the minnows at home.

In an ideal world you would beat them, pick-up the prize money and then have another shot at getting a big club in the fourth round.

The last thing you want is a club from your own division away from home.

North End’s winner against Shrewsbury on Saturday came from Paul Huntington.

After being out of the plans for many months, it is great to see the lad get back in the team and taking his chance.

That was his fourth goal in 11 games which is a very good return from a centre-back.

When I played in defence, I never managed to score four in a season let alone four very close together.

Huntington’s main job is to help keep clean sheets at the other end of the pitch but his goals are proving to be very important and a real bonus.

At the moment he will be one of the first names on the Preston team sheet.

There are two things that a player can do when they are out of the team and seemingly do not have a way back in.

They can sulk and feel sorry for themselves, or they can roll up their sleeves, train in the right way and see what happens.

Huntington has clearly done the latter – rolled up his sleeves and kept himself right ready for when a chance came.

It was Tom Clarke missing a couple of games because of illness which gave Huntington his chance in the side.

Sometimes you just need something like that to open a door and then it is up to you to stay in the team.

I think where Huntington deserves credit is the fact that he did not look rusty when he got back into the team. Being out of the team for a long spell affects players’ sharpness in different shapes.

If I was ever out of the team for a spell in my career, it would take me six or seven games to really get back into the swing of things.

Whereas someone like my old Preston team-mate Lee Cartwright could pick up the pace in his first game back.

North End’s win against Shrewsbury might not have been the prettiest but you cannot argue with the run of results they are.

They have won 13 out of the last 16 matches which is very consistent.

If you have such a win ratio over the course of a season in the league then you will be there or there abouts.

Last month they had that three-game wobble, losing against Rochdale, Swindon and Bradford.

They have since recovered by winning four on the bounce and that shows character.

However good a team is, they will lose matches along the way – Chelsea did so at Newcastle on Saturday. It is about how a team responds to defeat that is important.