Paul Huntington has been an ever-present player for Preston North End ever since signing for them in 2012 from Yeovil Town.
The former Newcastle, Leeds, and Stockport defender has made over 300 appearances in his time at Preston and over the summer, it could have all changed.
As a player who has made so many appearances over the years and is constantly fit and available, the centre half knew this summer during pre-season, something wasn’t quite right.
As with every pre-season, players have their testing and following blood tests, Huntington was immediately pulled out training.
His iron levels had dropped which left him with low energy and meant for a few weeks, Huntington was on a restricted training programme while the anaemia was treated.
After completing his first 90 minutes this season for the under 23’s, Huntington told the Lancashire Post about his struggle.
“From about March time I just didn’t feel right, I was really tired and struggling with my breathing.
“I was tested for asthma which came back fine and had a heart scan which didn’t find anything.
“In July I came back for pre-season training, did the first week with all the fitness work but really struggled.”
It wasn’t until Huntington had the blood tests that they were able to get to the bottom of the fatigue he was suffering, as he revealed: “I had my bloods taken and when the results came back the club doctor told me I had to stop training straight away because my iron levels were half of what I needed to be at.
“It’s the red blood cells which take the oxygen to the muscles. So while I was wanting to get there in terms of doing the training, physically I just couldn’t do it.”
It was a slow process for the experienced defender, but he’s delighted he’s back feeling at his best, and he believes he still has a part to play for the club, adding: “I’ve trained for five or six weeks now, played two 90 minutes in the reserves.
“My first 90 minutes in the game against Walsall came after just a couple of days of full training.
“I feel brand new, really good. Recently I was added to the squad and I was on the bench at Birmingham the other week. I do think I’ve still got a role to play both on and off the pitch.”
Huntington has been a pivotal player for Preston over the years and to not have him available at all in the first few weeks of the season and even pre-season would have been a huge blow.
Now he’s back in and around the squad, his experience will be huge for the rest of the season as Preston look to improve upon their 18th place currently.
Indeed, the extra option he could provide to help North End cope with the challenges of a long an tricky campaign, ought to welcome as well for those in charge at Deepdale.
It is also good to simply see Huntington is able to think about playing again, after the issues he has had to go through here.