New PNE signing is ready to go

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Preston North End left-back Greg Cunningham is eager to make a return to the Championship in Sunday’s league opener with Middlesbrough at Deepdale.

The Irishman has tasted life in the second tier with Bristol City, Nottingham Forest and Leicester.

Greg Cunningham

Greg Cunningham

Cunningham’s move to PNE from Bristol City provides the opportunity for a regular run of games after starts were hard to come by at Ashton Gate last season.

He is set to start on the left side of the Lilywhites defence against Boro – opponents who are among the favourites for promotion to the Premier League.

Said Cunningham: “It’s been two years since I played in the Championship so being back there is something I’m looking forward to.

“It will be good to play at that level again with Preston and kick-on with my career.

“The Championship seems to get tougher every year with the calibre of clubs coming down from the Premier League and those coming up.

“It’s a competitive league, an unpredictable one and one I think we can do well in.

“Preston have momentum from promotion last season, as do Bristol City who I have joined from.

“We will aim to carry that momentum through and see where it takes us.

“You only have to look at how well Brentford and Wolves did last season after being promoted.

“They both kicked on, they used the confidence gained from promotion to carry them up the table.

“Both kept the bulk of their squads together after being promoted, that is something the gaffer has done here.

“Going into a new division is a challenge for any club and it is one we are ready for here.”

Cunningham’s switch to North End went through at the beginning of last week.

He had the benefit of a few days training in Scotland with his new team-mates while the deal was completed and registered.

“Being able to have that time to get to know the other lads was really helpful,” said the 24-year-old.

“I had been in Portugal with Bristol City for two weeks, doing a good pre-season there.

“Then I got the call from Preston and it was a case of getting a flight to Glasgow so I could meet with the squad when they were up there.

“I feel really wanted here and I can’t stress enough how welcoming the boys have been with me.

“Within a couple of days I felt settled and training with them has been great.

“I had that time with them in Scotland, we played the game at Carlisle on the way back, then I got the chance to see the training ground here – the facilities are first-class here.

“It was tough leaving Bristol City because I had been there for three years and the boys there are a great bunch.

“A desire to play first-team football was a big factor, my playing time was limited last season which wasn’t ideal.”