PNE go under the radar

PNE's Greg Cunningham challenges Brighton striker Glenn Murray
PNE's Greg Cunningham challenges Brighton striker Glenn Murray
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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.

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.

Championship team of the season

Championship team of the season

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.

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.

Newcastle midfielder Jonjo Shelvey challenges PNE defender Paul Huntington

Newcastle midfielder Jonjo Shelvey challenges PNE defender Paul Huntington

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.

For consistency, perhaps Greg Cunningham?

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

Huddersfield's Aaron Mooy is action against Ben Pringle

Huddersfield's Aaron Mooy is action against Ben Pringle

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.

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.

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