PNE defenders target hit men

Paul Huntington gets above QPR's Leroy Fer at Loftus Road
Paul Huntington gets above QPR's Leroy Fer at Loftus Road
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Paul Huntington hopes that Preston can see off the threat of Jordan Rhodes and Ross McCormack in the coming weeks in the same way they dealt with Charlie Austin at the weekend.

The PNE defence stifled the threat of Queens Park Rangers dangerman Austin in their goalless draw at Loftus Road.

Their first game back after the international break is the eagerly-awaited derby clash with Blackburn, whose attack will be led by Rhodes – scorer of eight goals this season.

Then they travel to Fulham for whom McCormack has found the net 11 times.

“We say this all the time but every game in this division is a tough one,” Huntington told the Evening Post.

“There is some real quality about, players who can hurt you if don’t do your job.

“It was Charlie Austin we had to cope with at QPR, next it will be Jordan Rhodes.

“After that it is Ross McCormack at Fulham – that is the standard which you find yourself playing against.

“We are enjoying that challenge and if we can stifle players like that, it is a feather in our cap.”

Huntington’s start at QPR was his first in seven weeks.

A hamstring injury kept him sidelined after the Brentford game on September 19.

The 28-year-old returned to action last month, making four appearances as a substitute.

Said Huntington: “Being back out there from the start was very enjoyable.

“Apart from a practice game in training, that was my first start for quite a few weeks.

“I managed to get on and help the team as a sub, playing 20 minutes at Charlton and then 10 minutes or so in the last four games.

“That definitely helped with my fitness because I was pleased with how I felt on Saturday.

“I thought I might feel a bit sore in the last 20 minutes but I was fine.

“That is credit to the work which the physio and fitness coaches have done with me.

“We also had a couple of hard football sessions last week, which did me good.”

North End’s draw at QPR stretched their unbeaten run to six matches.

A 10-point haul in that time means they are in a far healthier state than when they went into the last international break early last month.

Huntington said: “People have really stepped up and the confidence of the group is a lot better than maybe it was at the last break.

“The clean sheets will give us a base to work from.

“It is not always going to be like that but it has enabled us to pick up a few points.

“The point we got at QPR is another which can help us to get to where we want to be at the end of the season.

“If we had gone there and played an open, expansive game of football, we could have been beaten.

“Teams have been beaten by four or five goals there this season.

“That might be a better game of football but every point has to be earned.”