Chris Kirkland exclusive column

North End goalkeepers Jordan Pickford and Chris Kirkland  with aspiring PNE No.1 Callum Dooley aged 13

North End goalkeepers Jordan Pickford and Chris Kirkland with aspiring PNE No.1 Callum Dooley aged 13

Share this article
4
Have your say

I have worked alongside a number of top class goalkeepers in my career and I have to say that Jordan Pickford is up there with the best.

He has got a great chance of going right to the top and his performances for Preston this season have been top-drawer.

Goalkeepers should make saves, after all, that is their job, but the thing which has really caught my eye is his command of the penalty area.

Jordan comes out to take crosses and has an authority for someone still very young.

As for his kicking, that is brilliant! I have never seen anyone kick a ball like he does.

Even when I was 21, I couldn’t kick a ball as far as Jordan can.

He has a real willingness to learn and a good career is in front of him.

There has been a lot of talk about Sunderland recalling him from his loan with us.

I hope he stays here but if he does go back, Jordan could play a key part in Sunderland’s attempts to stay up in the Premier League.

At Jordan’s age, you tend to be fearless on the pitch and that is a big help.

It is only later on when you get a bit older that you start to worry about making mistakes.

The way Jordan has played means I have sat on the bench since joining Preston in the summer.

I have no problem with that, when I signed I knew I would be No.2 to him – it was a decision I was happy with.

I could have stayed with Sheffield Wednesday, while I had contract offers from five or six clubs.

However, I wanted to get back to the region for personal reason and Preston’s offer suited me down to the ground.

The move here should have happened a few weeks earlier than it actually did but things went a bit quiet for a time.

Eventually it got sorted and it’s been a great first few months as a Preston player.

The gaffer knows that I’m not going to kick-up a fuss and that I’m here to help.

If called upon to play, I will be ready at the drop of a hat.

I have done every training session since I signed, played in the bounce games which are arranged, so I feel in really good shape.

If I was younger, I wouldn’t be happy being a No.2 and would have looked elsewhere to be first-choice.

But I knew a No.2 role was going to come eventually in my career. That is not to say I’m not desperate to play – I want to play – it is just that at my age, I can handle the situation better.

I will be 35 at the end of the season and I still feel I have another four or five years left in me yet.

I’m feeling fitter than ever, I have sorted out the back problem which I had earlier in my career – that hasn’t troubled me for a few years.

If I can get to 40 and still be playing, I would be delighted.

As a team and a squad, we are starting to settle into the Championship.

The team spirit here plays a big part in what we do – it is fantastic.

All the lads are close and will fight for one another on the pitch to get results.

The gaffer is a big part of that, so too his staff Glynn Snodin, Steve Thompson, Alan Kelly and Matt Jackson.

A good team spirit doesn’t happen by accident.

The gaffer looks for a certain type of character when bringing players into the squad.

It is not necessarily all about quality, it is about things work off the pitch as well as on it.

The team spirit here is as good as anything I have experienced. It reminds me very much of the spirit we had at Wigan between 2006-2008, that was a great spell.

You see teams who are struggling and hear about fractures within the group and players not being happy.

This day and age, you just cannot have that because results won’t come.

There are no big egos here, everyone gets on with one another – it is a close-knit squad.

We are going into the busy Christmas period which is always enjoyable.

On Sunday we go to Leeds, then it is off to Huddersfield on Boxing Day. That is not the longest trip in the world and I’m sure we will have a big following over there.

I still don’t understand why there cannot be more local games on Boxing Days, cut out much of the travelling for fans.

After Huddersfield, we have got two games at Deepdale and hopefully we can get a good return of points.

As a footballer, you get used to playing at Christmas and you know what you can and cannot do in terms of eating, resting and preparation.