Stand-in skipper Hunts is outstanding

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Alex Neil is pleased with how Paul Huntington has stepped up to the role of being Preston captain over the last month.

The central defender was given the armband following a long-term injury suffered by Greg Cunningham – himself a replacement for Tom Clarke.

Preston's stand-in skipper Paul Huntington

Preston's stand-in skipper Paul Huntington

Huntington is one of three ever-presents in league action for North End this season and will lead them in today’s home game against Sunderland.

“If you look at his stature, Paul’s an imposing man,” said Neil.

“He’s done great being our skipper, which has been good to see.

“The big man gets excited in games, I don’t know if you saw at Hull on Tuesday night when we scored the first goal, he ran towards us on the bench rather than the other players.

“I think he wanted a drink and maybe was looking for a pat on the back too!

“You can see how much it means to him with him going over to the fans and beating his chest.”

Huntington has become noticeably more vocal in the skipper’s role, as he is now the official communication line with the referee.

Off the pitch, Neil wants all the players to have a voice in order to carry Preston’s good form forward.

Said Neil: “Being vocal is something I encourage with the players,” said Neil.

“It is not a dictatorship thing, I don’t dictate things to them.

“Don’t get me wrong, when we have a game-plan and they have got specific roles, they are told what needs to be done and have to follow instructions.

“When we do de-briefs, talk about how we have done and certain issues in a game which they think have caused us issues, I want the lads to be vocal and talk about them,

“Then I can come up with a solution to try and solve any of the problems.”

While Preston’s squad does have a young core, Neil values the experience Huntington and the other senior players bring to the table.

John Welsh’s return in the last few weeks had brought more experience to the side.

Neil said: “We’ve got good senior lads, they set the tone in terms of the behaviour they expect from the younger lads, in that they are representing the club.

“They are fantastic about the place, we’ve got John Welsh who I’ve said before is a man and someone I have a lot of time for.

“I’ve a lot of time for Hunts, Greg, Tom Clarke and Paul Gallagher.

“Unfortunately Gally has had a stop-start time so far this season with injury and illness.

“He hasn’t really got going yet but hopefully we can get him going over the next few weeks and have him back in the squad.”