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First Team News

More To Come Says Hunts

19 June 2018

Paul Huntington feels there is more to come from the current squad under manger Alex Neil and expressed his thanks for all of the support he received throughout last season.

Huntington started 44 of PNE’s 46 Championship games this season after Alex Neil's arrival in what he describes as his best campaign at this level.

The defender was integral in North End’s push for a Play-Off spot but admits that despite the excellent for that the team ended the season on, he was disappointed with the final outcome.

Speaking to iFollowPNE, he said:

“I’ve got a lot to thank the manager for; giving me the trust to go and play. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it.

“A bit of a dampener at the end, not getting to where we wanted, I felt as though the performances maybe haven’t quite hit the heights of goals scored that we should have probably with the chances created. But performances away from home, there has been quite a lot of draws and you’re walking off the pitch thinking why haven’t we won that game.

“The manager, he’s come in and I think he missed the first 10 days of pre-season. We were speaking at the end of the season just saying that from the start of the season to now, how much we’ve developed as a group and come forward.

“Again, I think there’s more to come, from the group and myself included. With the core of the group being quite young, I think there’s plenty of years ahead of the younger players to improve and take us to that next level which we’d like to get to.

“On a personal level, I’m pleased with how it’s gone but it’s about the team and where you finish which is why I was walking around the pitch on the day feeling a little flat.

"Although we won four out of the last five and drew one, so we gave it a real good go, but it’s just fine margins really.”

The support of the fans this season has been one of the driving forces for Hunts this season, as he and his teammates looked to repay the fans' support with positive performances on the pitch.

“I remember watching at Leicester, they did their lap of honour and the ground wasn’t even a quarter full, maybe ten per cent full. We're speaking about the expectations and things like that but for us it was giving back to say thanks to them.

“Without the supporters there wouldn’t be a football club so we’ve got a lot to thank them for, both home and away. We’ve had some real good memories this season, especially away from home, I think our record was second, and not far off the top, away record.

“We’re very grateful for the backing we receive. We really felt it in that final game, I thought the atmosphere was terrific.

“It was a strange game but as much as I was pleased for the lads and the team it was nice to send the fans home, not happy because we were disappointed we couldn’t break into that top six and we missed out by two points, but on a positive note.

“The four wins and a draw in the last five games have been a positive and we’re looking to carry that on into pre-season and the new season.”

As determined as ever after his disappointment of not making it into the Play-Offs this time around, in what could be considered a bit of an unlucky season, North End's No.4 is looking ahead to improving on the position next season.

“You are going over in your head about the what ifs and buts. You think if we didn’t get those injuries when we had no defenders fit for those four games early in the season or if we didn’t miss those chances over Easter and we got the first goal, things might have been different.

“But it wasn’t for lack of effort, that’s one about this group, we’ve always that since I’ve been here; the togetherness, the team spirit, the fighting for each other.

“We’ve spoke about it a few times over the season, leaving it all out on the pitch and we certainly did that it just wasn’t quite enough. It gives you the hunger at the same time that shows you that there is work to be done, to keep improving.

“The manager has spoken about how we can’t afford to stand still, we have to improve. In terms of bringing players in, whether that be people coming in or us who are already here raising our levels next year.

“The Championship is a very tough league, probably one of the most competitive in Europe and on any given day anyone can beat anyone. We know that next season things won’t just click and happen, we’re going to have to work at it again and give everything as we did last season, hopefully that can take us that bit further.”

Now the longest-serving player at the club following John Welsh’s departure form Deepdale earlier in the summer, Huntington was full of praise for his former teammate.

“First of all, fantastic guy. Has done a lot of great things for this football club, We arrived here together in the summer of 2012, he’s done a lot of good things both on and off the pitch, a valued member of this squad whether he was playing or not.

“I think that speaks volumes of him as a person. We’ve got a lot in the group, that like John, whether they’re playing or not it’s all about the team.

“That goes a long way, especially with the team spirit and togetherness we’ve got in the group; he’s influential in the success, not so to speak this season, but the progress that we’re making. We’ll miss him, we’ll certainly miss him.”

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