That’ll do for starters for PNE defender

Greg Cunningham is tackled by Jordan Spence of MK Dons
Greg Cunningham is tackled by Jordan Spence of MK Dons
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Greg Cunningham will finish the campaign with the highest number of starts in the Preston North End squad.

The Irishman has started 42 of PNE’s 44 Championship games to date, statistics which cannot be bettered by any of his Deepdale team-mates.

Paul Gallagher has the next highest number of league starts – 39 – despite him having carried a hernia injury for much of the season.

Next in line is midfielder Daniel Johnson with 38 starts, then Joe Garner who has started 37 games.

Cunningham can also boast starts in three of the four cup games North End have played this term – injury forced him to miss the 1-0 win over Watford in the Capital One Cup.

It is with much satisfaction that the 25-year-old defender looks back on his first season in a Preston shirt.

PNE have certainly had good value from a player who came on a free transfer from Bristol City last July.

Cunningham told the Evening Post: “I’m delighted with how things have gone.

“From day one I was made to feel very welcome and that helped me settle quickly.

“It has been great to have been playing week in, week out, something which hadn’t been happening at Bristol City.

“Every player is the same – they just want to play as often as possible and thankfully that has been the case here.

“I’ve really enjoyed this season and there are still two games left which we want to go out and win.”

Cunningham will be high in the running for PNE’s player of the year – the awards take place at the club’s community day at Deepdale on Sunday.

The day before, North End go to the Madejski Stadium for their final away game against Reading. They end their first campaign back in the Championship at home to Leeds United a week on Saturday.

Said Cunningham: “We want to finish the season strongly, it would be great to get maximum points from the two games.

“We’ve had a great season, doing by far the best of the three promoted clubs.

“The first aim of any club who comes up is to stay in the league – that was a goal which we achieved quite comfortably.

“Then we began thinking of a top-half finish and then to finish in the top 10.

“If we put some more points on the board in the last two games, the top 10 is a strong possibility.

“We have put a marker down in this first season ahead of next year.

“The aim is to kick on next season, build on what we have done this time.

“This is a competitive league and could well be even more competitive next season, when you look at who might be coming down.”

North End are without a win since beating Blackburn 2-1 at Ewood Park on April 2.

They lost two on the spin to Fulham and Middlesbrough, then drew with MK Dons and Birmingham – Cunningham scoring a last-minute equaliser.

Last Friday night, they lost 1-0 to Burnley at Deepdale.

“Maybe we haven’t had the rub of the green just recently,” said Cunningham.

“Burnley was a tough game, they are up there at the top of the table for a reason.

“We went to their place in December and did them over but they came here and got the three points.”