PNE victory was a landmark appearance for Huntington

Simon Grayson has praised Paul Huntington's staying power after he played the 350th game of his career in Preston North End's win over Reading.

Tuesday, 14th March 2017, 5:00 am
Updated Friday, 24th March 2017, 10:59 am
Preston North End's Paul Huntington jumps with Reading's Paul McShane

The centre-back is the joint longest-serving player at Deepdale, with 191 of his appearances coming in PNE colours.

Him and John Welsh are the only two in the squad to pre-date Grayson’s arrival as manager four years ago.

“For Hunts to get to 350 games is credit to him,” said Grayson.

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“A long while ago there were opportunities for him to leave the club but Hunts always said he wanted to fight for his place and he has been a main player for us – that takes some doing.

“I came to the club four years ago when we were down in the depths of League One.

“So for a couple of the lads to have been playing then and now be playing at the top end of the Championship, shows how they have improved, wanted to improve and the desire they’ve had to do it.”

Huntington was a Bosman signing in July 2012, arriving at PNE after leaving Yeovil at the end of his contract.

Previously he had played for Newcastle, Leeds and Stockport County.

He was voted player of the year in the 2014/15 promotion season, scoring at Wembley in the 4-0 play-off final victory over Swindon.

There have been spells when the 29-year-old has been out of the side, including this season when he only forced his way into contention before Christmas.

Huntington helped keep a clean sheet in the weekend’s landmark appearance, the defensive performance from North End against the Royals earning as much praise from Grayson as their forward play.

For the second game in a row, Huntington had Andy Boyle as his partner in the centre of defence, with Tom Clarke and Greg Cunningham in the full-back roles.

Grayson said: “Andy Boyle and Hunts were very solid at the back.

“For the two games he has been involved in, Andy has been outstanding.

“When you think of who he was up against at Derby and against Reading, when you consider the movement that Reading had, he’s done well.

“Andy waited patiently for his opportunity, he’s certainly stepped up to the mark.

“I thought Tom Clarke was outstanding again at right-back on Saturday, the win we got against Reading was all about team work.”

Meanwhile, North End have sold more than 4,000 of their allocation for Saturday dinnertime’s derby clash at Blackburn.

They have now been given permission by Rovers to sell seats for the top tier and that is expected to see a surge in sales.