PNE ace in Hunt for top gong

Paul Huntington has been shortlisted for the NWFA player of the year
Paul Huntington has been shortlisted for the NWFA player of the year
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Preston North End defender Paul Huntington will be looking to follow in the footsteps of his Deepdale team-mates Joe Garner and John Welsh at the North West Football Awards.

The 28-year-old is on the shortlist for the League One Player of the Year award – the award covers last season.

It was a prize won by Garner last year and midfielder Welsh in 2013 – Garner also won the Goal of the Year award.

Huntington was nominated for this year’s shortlist after winning North End’s player of the year award in May.

His fortunes at Preston were turned on their head last season.

For the first two months of the campaign, he did make a single league appearance.

His absence from the team went back into the previous season.

But on October 21, he was recalled by North End manager Simon Grayson for visit to Gillingham and scored in a 1-0 victory at Priestfield 
Stadium.

Huntington went to enjoy a five-month unbroken run in the team, one which was only halted by a head injury sustained in the game at Fleetwood.

He returned to the team after a short absence and scored PNE’s second goal in the 4-0 play-off final win against Swindon at Wembley Stadium.

After starting the opening 10 games of this season, a hamstring injury has kept Huntington sidelined of 
late.

He was hoping to return to action at Sheffield Wednesday before the international break but suffered a setback in training.

His target is now to be back for the clash with Cardiff City at Deepdale this weekend.

In the NWFA voting, Huntington is up against Ben Garratt (Crewe), Chris Maxwell (Fleetwood), Mike Jones (Oldham), and Ian Henderson (Rochdale).

North End midfielder Daniel Johnson is in the running for the Rising Star award.

Again, it covers last season, Johnson netting eight goals after his £50,000 signing from Aston Villa in January.

This term in the higher division, DJ has kept up his eye for goal from midfield, with five goals to his name to date.

Johnson is nominated along with James Jones (Crewe), Carl Winchester (Oldham) and Jamie Allen (Rochdale).

Voting is open until Friday, with supporters able to cast their vote at www.northwestfoootballawards.com/voting.

The awards ceremony takes place next month in Manchester.