Brags to riches for PNE defender

Greg Cunningham (centre) wants a derby victory this weekend
Greg Cunningham (centre) wants a derby victory this weekend
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Defender Greg Cunningham is hoping to hand the derby bragging rights to Preston North End’s supporters on Saturday.

One of the big attractions for PNE this season – after winning promotion back to the Championship – was the number of Lancashire derbies to look forward to.

Unfortunately, North End have yet to taste success over one of their local rivals so far after drawing against Bolton at home last month and losing 2-1 to Blackburn Rovers at Deepdale a week last Saturday.

This weekend’s trip to Turf Moor to take on Burnley affords the players another opportunity to register a victory over one of their near neighbours.

“Of course it was disappointing losing that game against Blackburn,” Cunningham said.

“It’s disappointing losing any game, but especially a local derby.

“You want those bragging rights, especially for the fans and we’ll be making sure we do everything in our power to win the next derby against Burnley.”

Cunningham has been an integral figure in a North End defence which has been in impressive form in recent weeks.

In the last eight games, they have conceded just three goals, and kept six successive clean sheets during that period.

Last weekend, it required a touch of class from a free-kick by Fulham’s 10-goal striker Ross McCormack to breach the PNE backline.

This weekend they will have to keep quiet the only man who is ahead of McCormack in the Championship goalscoring charts – Burnley’s Andre Gray, who has notched 11 so far this season.

However, Cunningham admitted he is relishing the challenge of coming directly up against these type of players.

“The Championship is a very competitive league and these are the players that you want to be playing against to really test yourselves and better yourselves,” he said.

“We are always respectful of the players and teams we come up against but we don’t fear anybody.”

Cunningham arrived at Deepdale this summer from Bristol City and in many people’s eyes has been the most consistent performer out of all of manager Simon Grayson’s close-season acquisitions.

And the 24-year-old admitted he has been pleased with the way he has settled in to his new surroundings.

“I have enjoyed every minute of it so far,” he said. “The boys have been great.

“My aim has been to be as consistent as possible every game – I’ve felt I have done that to a certain degree.”

Meanwhile, North End are still waiting on news as to the extent of striker Stevie May’s knee injury, sustained in the final minutes at Craven Cottage on Saturday.

The forward has suspected ligament damage, but club medics are waiting for the injury to settle down before further examination.