Dave Seddon’s Press View

Sam Johnstone has returned to Preston North End on loan

Sam Johnstone has returned to Preston North End on loan

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JORDAN Pickford out and Sam Johnstone in, Will Keane gone and Callum Robinson back for a third time.

Throw in Adam Reach’s stay being extended from 93 days to one of a few months and you have a picture of Preston’s loan activity in just the first few days of January.

The temporary market is one which the Lilywhites have used well of late, whether they be standard loans or the emergency kind permitted by the Football League.

Promotion last season was achieved with the services of Johnstone, Robinson, Paul Gallagher and Jermaine Beckford – all hired help.

Others have come this season, some have come and gone in the cases of Pickford and Keane – more of them in a moment.

Loans have been a route out of Deepdale for those not getting a regular game, so it can work both ways.

But the loan market as we know it, is heading for change.

The emergency element will disappear from next season, those which are currently permitted outside the main transfer window.

Clubs will still be able to borrow players from window to window but not in between.

The result will probably be a little more stockpiling of ‘just-in-case’ players, with no room for manoeuvre for those in need of a game.

North End’s active use of the loan market has been applauded by many, although frowned upon too.

Permanent signings might provide more stability and avoid the situations seen with the Keane and Pickford removals.

Then again, players of the standard of Pickford, Beckford, Gallagher, Reach and Johnstone would not have been in Preston’s reach had they not been available on loan.

Beckford and Gallagher have since joined full-time, but only after the completion of contracts elsewhere, during which PNE were only making a contribution to their wages.

We had all seen last week’s return of Pickford to Sunderland coming.

As for Keane going back to Manchester United, well we probably collectively spluttered on our first New Year’s Eve pint.

Pickford’s record spoke for itself, with 13 clean sheets in 27 league and cup games.

Although annoying to see him go back to the Stadium of Light, you cannot really blame Sam Allardyce for at least wanting a look at him.

The case of Keane returning to Old Trafford is more of a curious one. Does he really think he can help solve United’s labours in front of goal?

If Keane wants one last go at making it with the Red Devils, every credit to him for arguing his case to Louis van Gaal.

But is that also a case of Van Gaal clutching at straws or being too easily persuaded?

Keane has taken plenty of stick for going home part-way through the loan.

The usual ‘he was rubbish anyway’ comments accompanied him back down the M61 to Manchester.

I might have found myself nodding in agreement a month or so ago, but in December, Keane began to look an asset.

I’m not basing that just on his solo goal against Burnley, however good that one in the Turf Moor downpour was.

But in the home games last month, Simon Grayson looked to have found a way of fitting him in by using a 4-3-3.

His performance against Reading was arguably his best in a Preston shirt.

What he produced in the win over Hull City in his final appearance was not far behind.

Being cynical, did Keane know the recall period was fast coming up?

Or was it a case of him simply having found his feet here, providing the confidence to raise the subject of another chance with his parent club? I would like to think it was the latter, time will tell what really was in his thoughts.

Eoin Doyle filled the space vacated by Keane in last week’s win over Rotherham.

In the longer term, it looks like the position is earmarked for the returning Robinson.

Him putting pen to paper earlier this week, got a mixed reaction it has to be said.

It is true that his first spell on loan last season bettered that of the second. He has to prove himself all over again in the higher division, his time on loan at Bristol City being something of a struggle.

The fact Robinson chose to go to City in the summer when Preston were sniffing, is harsh to hold against him.

Aston Villa wanted him to try somewhere different and remember, they did recall the lad twice last season, so PNE were not the be-all and end-all to them. Robinson deserves the chance – and patience – to try and find his best form.