Preston North End exclusive player column: Greg Cunningham on proving himself all over again at Deepdale
Getting my new contract signed this week was really exciting and I can now look forward to a settled time at Preston North End.
Regardless of how much you concentrate on your game and are professional, it is always at the back of your mind.
For myself and my family, it is nice to know we can come back and settle in the North West again.
I’ve got a lot more proving to do here. There are always people out there who, when you hit a certain age or don’t play for a while, have question marks against you.
It’s about proving yourself week in, week out, to show you are a good player and sometimes to prove people wrong.
You can’t be complacent, football is a fickle world where you can get forgotten about.
I had three great seasons at Preston after Simon Grayson brought me in, then working with Alex Neil.
In the time I was away with Cardiff, there are things which have changed here such as the training ground which is magnificent.
But a lot of people behind the scenes – the backroom staff – have stayed and it’s been good to work with them once again.
As I said when I came back on loan in January, it felt like home and my view hasn’t changed.
When I joined Cardiff, I moved down there in the hope of getting settled for a good spell.
In the end there ended up being a lot of moving around.
I didn’t get much game time at Cardiff and then I got shipped out to Blackburn on loan. It was there I got the knee injury so it was back to Cardiff for my rehab.
When I got fit I thought the change of manager there might see me more involved but that didn’t happen.
So when there was another change and Mick McCarthy came in, I sat down with him to have an honest conversation about what to do next.
I told Mick I couldn’t risk staying and not featuring for the duration of my contract.
What I needed to do was get out and play minutes because there are lots of quality players out there without clubs having been in a similar position.
Mick was very good about the whole thing, I knew him from being in Republic of Ireland squads and he understood.
When I came to Preston in January there was no guarantee of games but I had worked with Alex Neil before and I knew he would give me a fair crack of the whip.
That was the case – I got into the side and started to play matches.
Against Bournemouth I picked up a bit of an issue with my calf. That was down to playing Saturday/Tuesday/ Saturday after not many minutes for a while at Cardiff.
Annoyingly, it came in the last game before we had a clear midweek.
It set me back a few weeks and in that time there was the change of manager. I’m now back available for Frankie McAvoy and we’ve done well under him.
We want to finish the season strongly, get as high up the table as we can, then regroup and refresh over the summer.
It’s been a tough season for everyone, not just at this club. The end of last season rolled into the start of this one and the chance to have a proper rest will be welcome.
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