Paul Huntington’s injury not long-term says Preston boss Alex Neil

Paul Huntington missed PNE's draw at Millwall
Paul Huntington missed PNE's draw at Millwall

Paul Huntington saw his long run in the Preston defence come to end at the weekend.

The centre-half missed the 1-1 draw at Millwall with a hamstring tweak.

That was the first league games he had missed through injury – suspension ruled him out of the November clash with Aston Villa.

In Huntington’s absence, skipper Tom Clarke and Ben Davies were paired together in the middle.

PNE boss Alex Neil does not envisage Huntington to be absent for long.

He was frustrated not to have him available at The Den, saying the clash was ideal for Huntington.

Neil told the Post: “Paul is not going to be out for long.

“It was a real frustration of ours in the build-up to the game at Millwall that we knew Paul wouldn’t be available.

“If there were two games you want to pick Paul for, it would be Millwall away and Cardiff away.

“We knew it would be a bit of a battle at Millwall, Steve Morison and Lee Gregory are a real handful.

“Paul has been our most dominant player in the air this season.

“To lose him and also not to have a fit right-back and still limit Millwall to one shot on target was credit to the lads.”

Huntington, in his sixth season at Deepdale, has been a big part of Neil’s plans.

The 30-year-old skippered North End for a spell this term in the absence of Clarke and Greg Cunningham.

He is a fans’ favourite, with supporters nicknaming him the Cumbrian Cannavaro.

North End will assess his fitness ahead of the home clash with Birmingham City on Saturday.

Neil, meanwhile, has explained the mix-up which almost saw Ben Pearson substituted in the first 15 minutes at Millwall.

Pearson went down with a knee injury and needed treatment on the pitch from the physio.

Neil had Daniel Johnson ready to replace him, the signal Pearson had given from the pitch that he could carry on being misinterpreted by the coaching staff.

“We are going to have to work on our signals,” said Neil.

“To me, the signal we were getting was that Ben could not continue.”

Pearson did eventually come off in the 78th minute, Neil mindful of the yellow card the midfield had collected.

Said Neil: “As the game went on and went end-to-end, I thought if Ben made a late tackle he was going to get sent off. So we brought DJ on to replace him.”