Huntington ready for final PNE friendly

Paul Huntington is relieved to be approaching the end of Preston's pre-season schedule, with the start of the new campaign a little more than a week away.

Thursday, 28th July 2016, 1:00 pm
Updated Thursday, 28th July 2016, 1:24 pm
Paul Huntington is in PNE's squad to face Bolton at the Macron Stadium on Saturday

The Lilywhites go to Bolton on Saturday (3pm) for their final friendly, then the focus turns to the Championship curtain-raiser at Reading.

Huntington has seen plenty of action in the friendlies to date, including an hour against Morecambe on Tuesday night.

Although his shift at the Globe Arena ended with him getting a knock of the arm in the aftermath of forcing a fine save from Shrimps keeper Barry Roche, the centre-half will be fine for the weekend.

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“I was due to come off anyway, the plan was to play an hour and then for Tom Clarke to replace me,” Huntington told the Evening Post.

“One of the Morecambe lads landed on my arm after I’d gone up for a header in their box.

“I didn’t actually see the keeper make the save because I was on the floor but I’m told it was a good one.

“It is good that we are getting towards the end of the pre-season and I’m looking forward to the new season starting.

“We have got the last game at Bolton this weekend and then have a week’s training to fine-tune ahead of Reading.

“In the last two or three friendlies, we have stepped things up in terms of our play and fitness.

“We have done a lot of work on various things, how we play and how we set up.

“Over the next week, we have got a bit more work to do and then it all starts against Reading.

“I think Bolton will be a good test for us on Saturday, it is a chance to push on and show the gaffer we are ready.

“During pre-season we have had different kinds of tests in the matches, building up to where we are now.”

Huntington is not looking too far ahead in terms of hopes and expectations for the new campaign.

The 28-year-old said: “We want to improve on the previous season, as every club does, do as well as we can.

“At this stage, my only real thought is trying to make a good start to the season, I’m not looking too far ahead.

“If we can make a good start, put points on the board, we can take it from there.

“We have a good group of lads here, three of the players we’ve had on loan have come back and four new lads have signed, which is good.

“It has been easy for them to integrate into the squad.

“Looking at the start we have got, we only played Reading at the end of last season – it was the last away game and we won it.

“So it feels a bit strange starting off there.”

Saturday’s hosts Bolton are preparing for life in League One after relegation in May.

The Trotters appointed Chorley-born Phil Parkinson as manager in June, luring him away from Bradford City, where he had been in charge for nearly five years.

Former Preston striker Jamie Proctor has taken the same path as Parkinson over the summer.

The Ingol lad spent the second half of last season with Bradford after leaving Fleetwood.

Earlier this month, he joined Bolton on a two-year deal and is likely to play a part against PNE, despite having a slight groin injury.