Exclusive Paul Huntington Preston North End column: Hard work ahead

Getting to grips with Rotherham's Kyle Vassell at Deepdale last week
Getting to grips with Rotherham's Kyle Vassell at Deepdale last week

The last five games have shown that we are slowly getting better but we know that there is a lot more work to be done yet.

We are unbeaten in five matches with a draw-win-draw-win-draw sequence and if we can improve on that we can start driving up that Championship table.

In terms of us playing catch-up after a poor start, I’m not trying to look at it that way.

We are not where we were at this time last season but I’m confident this group of players will get better as the campaign goes on.

Rather than focus on the number of points we have, I just look at the next game and how we can try and get three points from it.

I think something which stands out this season is how we have been in nearly all of the games which we didn’t get anything from.

We didn’t get hammered in any of them particularly and I know the manager has spoken a lot after games about fine margins.

There were games when we were trying to win it and left ourselves a exposed at the other end, or things did not quite go our way.

Attacking-wise, we have been the polar opposite this season to what we were in past years.

Every year I have been here, even when we were in League One, I wouldn’t say that we were a free-scoring team – we were much more of a solid side.

But every credit goes to the attacking lads for the goals they have scored, to be fourth-highest goalscorers in the division is some going.

What we have to find now is a balance between that good play going forward and staying a lot more solid at the back – that will come with hard work on the training ground and the confidence we gain from picking up 
positive results.

Against Rotherham last week, I thought we were more solid in defence than we had been in some games.

They hit the outside of the post in the first half but that was never going in at any point.

Probably their clearest chance was the one they equalised with in the second half.

At the other end, we were not quite as clinical as we had been in some games – a lot different to the Brentford game three days before.

We probably didn’t choose the right pass or make the right decision in key areas, which was a bit of a return to last season.

I’d say we had enough chances to win the game but in the end we had to settle for a point.

We now have two away games to play, at Ipswich on Saturday and then Bristol City the week after.

Those are followed by the international break, so it would be ideal to go into that with a decent number of points.

Ipswich have changed manager recently and this will be Paul Lambert’s first game in charge.

A change of manager can shake things up at any club and the Ipswich players will be up for it, maybe more so than they would have been.

They will be looking to show the new manager what they are all about, so I think it will be a tough game for us.

I believe Paul Lambert was at their last match, watching from the stand, but this will his first down on the touchline.

It is a game we are looking forward to – as a squad we have that approach every week.

We are never going to be out-gunned for work-rate and endeavour, we are an honest group of lads and any poor results we get aren’t for a lack of trying.

It will probably be quite a physical game on Saturday and we’ll be ready for that.

We want to put on a good performance but the main thing is trying to bring home the three points.

If we could extend our unbeaten run into the international break and beyond it, that would inevitably see us move up the table.

A lot of clubs are bunched together on a similar number of points and two or three wins on the bounce can make such a difference.

I look at Norwich City as an example of that.

We played them earlier in the season and I didn’t think that they were particularly special that night if I’m being totally honest.

But they have been on a great run of late, winning a lot of games and now they are up there in the table.

I don’t think there is a lot between many of the sides in the Championship and it comes down to finding a good level of consistency.

These next two games are both long away trips and we appreciate the support which the fans give us.

As players, we accept that travelling is part of the job and we are well looked after.