PNE in Numbers: Huntington happy at the heart of defence

Preston North End's Paul Huntington.

Preston North End's Paul Huntington.

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When thinking about players who have starred for Preston North End this season, Paul Huntington isn’t necessarily one that springs to mind.

But as throughout his near five-year PNE career, the 29-year-old has proved to be Mr Dependable for Simon Grayson whenever called upon at the heart of the Deepdale defence.

A few eyebrows were raised when he signed a new contract in August, perhaps rightly so given he was used sparingly in the first half of the season.

The former Newcastle and Leeds man has now racked up 26 appearances in all competitions in 2016-2017 however, playing 1,865 minutes in total, which is more than top scorer Jordan Hugill amongst others.

He also bagged a crucial goal in the 2-0 win over Brighton back in January and despite the position he plays in, Huntington has been booked just twice all season, proving how reliable he is.

Most would agree PNE’s player of the year honours are between Ben Pearson and Aiden McGeady, both of whom have seven Lancashire Post man of the match awards this year.

Huntington is third in the standings with five, closely followed by defensive partner Tom Clarke who has four.

It’s further proof, if any was needed, that the defensive base Grayson has built his side on remains, despite more of an attacking emphasis this time around.

PNE are shipping 1.21 goals a game, compared to the Championship average of 1.37 as their rise up the table continues.