Exclusive Sean Gregan Preston North End column: Three former clubs at the top and I’m backing PNE!

Paul Gallagher's influence has been key this season
Paul Gallagher's influence has been key this season

Three of the clubs I played for are first, second and third in the Championship table.

It’s West Bromwich Albion, Preston North End and Leeds United but all these years on I won’t try to take any credit!

Albion and Leeds have been in the Premier League, so North End’s need to get there is greater and nothing would give me more pleasure than to see them continue this strong form.

They had an excellent win over Huddersfield Town last Saturday, a side who had been going well since the Cowley brothers went in.

Huddersfield have plenty of players remaining from their couple of seasons in the Premier League, so every credit to PNE for rolling them over.

It was a strong, dominant display for much of the game and scoring an early goal proved important.

Jayden Stockley’s fourth-minute goal settled them down and allowed them to play with a good tempo and plenty of determination.

Old-timer Paul Gallagher continues to pull the strings and how important he remains to Preston. He has scored penalties two games running and his experience within the squad is something which cannot be underestimated.

It is three wins on the bounce now, which is a good run at any level.

If North End can go to Derby and Hull after the international break and put points on the board, it will set things up very nicely for the game against WBA in a couple of weeks time.

Albion look strong and obviously their position at the top of the table reflects that. They have got a strong squad and a sensible manager in Slaven Bilic.

But PNE are only two points behind them and wouldn’t it be great if the clash at Deepdale on December 2 is a top-of-the table affair?

Moving away from North End and on to the England scene, it was great to see Gareth Southgate’s side thrash Montenegro 7-0 on Thursday night.

The build-up to that game which saw England qualify for Euro 2020 was obviously dominated by the dust-up between Raheem Sterling and Joe Gomez.

What a fuss about nothing and I really didn’t see what Southgate was trying to achieve by leaving Sterling out for the game. If I had been dropped every time I had a disagreement or a bit of a scrap in training, I would barely have made it into double figures of games in my career.

A professional football environment is a competitive one, you are all trying to impress and there will be fall-outs with team-mates.

Would Southgate have left Sterling out if England had been playing Germany away in a qualifier? Being able to do it against Montenegro was pretty easy.

If I was Southgate, my concern would be the fact what happened has been reported chapter and verse, every word, every detail.

As manager, I would be looking to see who was leaking the information.