Preston North End defender Paul Huntington has faced up to former team-mate Jordan Hugill hundreds of times in training, but it will be a first in competitive action on Tuesday night.
The North End No.23, who is closing in on 300 appearances for the Lilywhites, spoke to iFollow PNE ahead of the clash with Middlesbrough and said he was looking forward to seeing the former North End striker, but wouldn’t be speaking too much to him until after the game!
“Jordan was a great lad,” said Hunts. “He did really well for us and we wish him well… after the game on Tuesday night! We got along really well, but we will put friendships aside, because it is about Preston North End going out and winning another game of football and we will be looking to do that.
“Each player is different, but I am a little bit old school, not too friendly before or during the game, but shake hands afterwards.
“It is part and parcel of football. We are just concentrating on keeping this run going and we are looking forward to it.”
After Saturday’s memorable derby day win over Blackburn Rovers it could be easy to dwell on that, but the centre half says that manager Alex Neil was swift to get the team’s focus on Tuesday night’s clash with Tony Pulis’ Teesiders.
“The manager spoke after the game on Saturday and mentioned that we should enjoy the win then, but then put it behind us,” he continued. “We were back in on Sunday for our warm down and preparing for the next game, which is the most important.
“We are up against a side who are going well in the league; we know it is going to be a tough game. The three games in a week is going to be tough physically, but I am sure the squad will be ready and be used.
“They are set up to be hard to beat and they have done well at that since their manager has gone in. He has had success in this league and managed at the highest level and they play to their strengths.
“You come up against different tasks and personnel in this division, but it is up to us to prepare for that, do our best and that is what being a footballer is about – you adjust and adapt to different situations.
“We are looking forward to the game and hopefully we can keep this run doing on.”
However, Paul feels there is plenty of confidence coursing through the veins of the squad after the weekend’s display and he says that despite the injuries at the top end of the pitch, the consistency in the defensive third was starting to assist the performances.
“We thoroughly deserved to win against Blackburn. Declan made a couple of saves when he called upon and there are still areas we can improve on, but we have had a settled back four in the last few games and we are forming those relationships from time together again.
“Both individually for myself and the team collectively, we have things we can work on, but we will look to learn from them and move forward,” he added.