PNE go under the radar

Preston North End's rise up the table and being in the pack of clubs challenging for a play-off slot has in the main gone under the radar.

Wednesday, 22nd March 2017, 2:13 pm
Updated Friday, 24th March 2017, 10:55 am
PNE's Greg Cunningham challenges Brighton striker Glenn Murray

From second bottom in the second week of September to ninth place and five points off the top six in late March, it has been a steep climb.

North End boss Simon Grayson has often said that the focus and indeed the pressure in on other clubs who currently have a higher profile.

For that reason, it was not too much of a surprise to see no PNE players make it into the EFL Championship team of the season.

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Championship team of the season

It was put together from a poll of reporters who cover clubs in the division.

Each reporter submitted a Championship XI together with who they thought was the best manager.

It was a 4-3-3 system and could NOT include players from the team you cover.

If any North End player was going to get in, you thought that Aiden McGeady might have caught some attention.

Newcastle midfielder Jonjo Shelvey challenges PNE defender Paul Huntington

For consistency, perhaps Greg Cunningham?

Even Ben Pearson, that said he often antagonises the opposition as oppose to catching their eye.

The chosen team was: David Stockdale (Brighton), Tom Smith (Huddersfield), Pontus Jansson (Leeds), Lewis Dunk (Brighton), Scott Malone (Fulham), Anthony Knockaert (Brighton), Jonjo Shelvey (Newcastle), Aaron Mooy (Huddersfield), Glenn Murray (Brighton), Marcus Gayle (Newcastle) and Chris Wood (Leeds).

The XI which I submitted had seven of the players who made the final cut.

Huddersfield's Aaron Mooy is action against Ben Pringle

The four differences were Sheffield Wednesday keeper Keiran Westwood instead of Stockdale, Ryan Sessegnon at left-back in place of his Fulham team-mate Malone, with Tom Cairney (Fulham) and Matt Ritchie (Newcastle) instead of Shelvey and Mooy.

It was just down to personal choice – what I’d seen against North End and bits and pieces from games on television.

As for the manager of that select XI, Huddersfield’s David Wagner was the chosen one but I went for Chris Hughton at Brighton.

Teams were also chosen in League One and League Two on the same basis.

Championship team of the season

A select XI taken from all three divisional sides will be announced at the EFL Awards night next month.

Newcastle midfielder Jonjo Shelvey challenges PNE defender Paul Huntington
Huddersfield's Aaron Mooy is action against Ben Pringle