Aston thriller for PNE winger

Chris Humphrey is excited by playing in a demanding Championship

Chris Humphrey is excited by playing in a demanding Championship

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Preston North End winger Chris Humphrey cannot wait to test himself in next season’s Championship, which he predicts will be the toughest it has been for many years.

Aston Villa, Newcastle and Norwich coming down from the Premier League adds plenty of spice to the division.

It is Villa’s relegation which has really caught the eye of Humphrey, who was raised in the Midlands.

Not since the 1987/88 campaign have Villa played outside the top flight.

Humphrey told the Evening Post: “It is going to be an exciting division with Villa and Newcastle in there.

“I have a lot of friends who support Villa and watch them.

“I was a West Bromwich Albion fan as a kid, so there is plenty of rivalry there.

“When you look through the Championship, there are some massive clubs in there.

“The Premier League is the place to be but the Championship isn’t a bad place either.

“We are all looking forward to it next season.

“The lads did extremely well in the season just gone and we will be looking to do better when it all starts again.

“With a fully fit squad and some new additions, I think we can do well.

“I’m really excited about next season and I’m sure the fans will be too.

“To finish in 11th place this time and at one time being within reach of the top six was beyond many people’s expectations.

“That is something we want to improve on.”

Having been restricted to just a handful of games last season due to a fractured shin, Humphrey aims to make up for lost time in 2016/17.

The 28-year-old has limited himself to just a few days’ holiday this summer in order to work on his fitness ready for pre-season training.

Said Humphrey: “I want to make an impact because I didn’t really get going last season.

“We’ve got a couple of other lads in the same boat – Jermaine Beckford got back towards the end of last season and was beginning to look like his old self.

“Having Becks available from the start will be a massive boost for us.

“Liam Grimshaw will be back too, then Stevie May during the season.

“The gaffer has started to strengthen for next season with a new goalkeeper coming in and others will be joining.

“What you find with the gaffer is that the players he brings in are always the right type in terms of having the correct attitude.”

Meanwhile, new North End goalkeeper Chris Maxwell has missed out on a place in the Wales squad for Euro 2016.

Maxwell, who has moved to PNE from Fleetwood, was called up to train with the squad in the Algarve last week, while Danny Ward recovered from a knee injury.