Dave Seddon’s PNE press view

Greg Cunningham  scoring here at Bristol City  
has been a model of consistency this season
Greg Cunningham  scoring here at Bristol City  has been a model of consistency this season
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Preston North End put the call out to supporters this week to begin voting for this season’s player of the year.

The vote is open until next Friday, with ticks in the box needed for player of the year, young player of the year and goal of the season.

So who will follow in the footsteps of Paul Huntington, Joe Garner, John Welsh and Thorsten Stuckmann who have won the award in recent years?

Greg Cunningham gets the nod from me for a consistent and strong first season in a while shirt.

I will go with Alan Browne for the young player, the Irish midfielder having come on in leaps and bounds this year.

As for the goal of the season, if North End were to beat Blackburn today, whoever nets the winner can have it as far as I am concerned!

But at the moment it is a toss-up between that wonderful strike by Neil Kilkenny against Bristol City in September and Paul Gallagher’s second goal at Charlton the following month.

To be fair, Daniel Johnson’s curler in the Charlton game is in the running too, while I might also suggest Gallagher’s opener in February’s away win at Wolves.

Back to Cunningham and I cannot think of anyone who has been as consistent as him.

A free transfer from Bristol City was never going to be seen as the marquee signing of last summer but he has done the business.

I remember news of a deal being done for him began to come out as I travelled up to Scotland for PNE’s friendly with Motherwell in late July.

The reaction to it was not massively positive – after all Cunningham was coming from a club just promoted out of League One together with North End.

Add to that, the Irishman had not been a regular in the Robins’ title-winning season.

But he has cut an impressive figure down that left-hand side, either at left-back or in the multipurpose wing-back slot.

Remember, he also played in a back three during Preston’s run of clean sheets in October.

To that list of achievements, you can throw in the diving header which won PNE the game against former club Bristol City in January, so too the celebration which followed.

As for challengers to Cunningham’s crown, I would put Gallagher in there, with mentions in despatches for Adam Reach and Bailey Wright.

Let us not forget Jordan Pickford either for a series of displays between the sticks which kept Preston in matches.

It might be worth sending a bottle of champagne off to Wearside as a token of thanks.

Moving on to the young player award, I cannot see beyond Browne.

He has come a long way in a relatively short space of time – it is only two years since he made his Preston debut in a 3-1 win over Peterborough.

Last season, he spent the best part of four months sat in the stand as others got the nod ahead of him.

But he came back and took his chance in the play-offs, playing an hour of the final at Wembley when Gallagher was injured.

In the higher division, Brown has pushed on and is turning potential into an end product.

He has the engine to go box to box, can break up play and now just needs a few more goals to be regarded as an all-round midfielder.

Turning to goal of the season, North End’s shortcomings in the opposition box mean there are not stacks to choose from.

Kilkenny’s shot from 25 yards in the Bristol City home game was terrific, struck with power and accuracy.

The one scored by Gallagher at The Valley was closer in but spectacular all the same.

He followed his own corner inside and when the ball came back to him on the side of the box, Gallagher’s technique in guiding it into the far top corner from quite a narrow angle was pretty special.

The third goal in that win over Charlton came from the left boot of Johnson and was pinpoint accurate.

Meanwhile, Jamie Vardy ‘had a party’ during the international break, scoring twice for England to make himself a certainty for Roy Hodgson’s 23-man squad.

Vardy is an example that players don’t have to come through an academy, where youngsters have their multicoloured boots laid out and play on immaculate pitches.

I looked back in the week at whether Vardy had played in Leicester’s pre-season friendly against PNE at Deepdale two years ago – he did and limped off early, his place taken by Riyad Mahrez. Not a bad substitution to make!