Preston North End's Greg Cunningham does his homework to get ahead of the competition

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Preston North End defender Greg Cunningham has explained the steps he takes to make sure he’s ahead of the competition when it comes to matchdays.

The 32-year-old has started the last two games for North End, in the middle of a back three. There have been doubts over the Irishman playing in the central role given his height, at only 6ft tall, but Cunningham has never let North End down when playing as one of three centre backs, never mind as the central one.

But his size disadvantage is something that Cunningham prepares around, doing his research on whoever he is coming up against to make sure he comes out on top.

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He said: “It's important that I do my homework and know who I'm coming up against and if someone is bigger than me or whatever then I have to be smart about it. It's important that you are calculated in everything that you do and not let emotions make certain decisions, or let your ego make certain decisions.

Preston North End's Greg Cunningham celebrates a goal at Blackburn RoversPreston North End's Greg Cunningham celebrates a goal at Blackburn Rovers
Preston North End's Greg Cunningham celebrates a goal at Blackburn Rovers

"It's important to understand the game and I do feel like I understand the role that is needed. It's just about when I get on that pitch that I do everything I can, regardless of the position.”

Doing research specific to upcoming opponents – more specifically individual players – is not something often talked about by footballers but it has become a regular occurence for Cunningham over the course of his career.

Keen to make a career in England having come out of the Manchester City academy, Cunningham did whatever he could to become a success.

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He said: “It’s always has been something I’ve done since I was young, since I came over and started playing. When you come out of an academy and you're in first team football, points are massive. They can make or break a manager or a team.

"I always feel that if you go into a game unprepared or you don't know who you're up against it can take one lapse of concentration or one thing that you have switched off from that if you had done your homework, you might have seen.

"It is important that you watch your clips of who you're up against and you find certain tendencies of what they try to do or characteristics that they have and make sure you're ready if the opportunity arises during a game.

"I never go into a game blind, I always make sure I'm prepared for who I'm coming up against or potentially up against. With the availability of the videos and apps it's a lot easier than it used to be.”

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