Keeper Kirkland joins PNE

Chris Kirkland has joined Preston
Chris Kirkland has joined Preston
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Preston North End have signed goalkeeper Chris Kirland on a one-year deal.

The 34-year-old was a free agent after leaving Sheffield Wednesday in June and North End made their move to sign him on Wednesday morning to provide cover for Jordan Pickford.

Kirkland had spent time training with Wigan this summer and it is believed that he was close to joining Bradford City before PNE offered him the deal to come to Deepdale.

He was not registered in time to be in the squad for PNE’s Capital One Cup clash at Crewe but will be in the squad which travels to MK Dons this weekend.

North End manager Simon Grayson said: “We think Chris is going to help with our younger goalkeepers in the squad.

“Obviously we’ve got Alan Kelly who has been instrumental in the success of our previous ‘keepers in Sam Johnstone and Declan Rudd, and hopefully Jordan this year.

“But Chris will add both competition for places as well as bringing his experience of playing at the highest level.

“We are trying to get the right balance right the way through the squad of young players with youthful exuberance, but also have some lads who have been there and done it and can guide the younger players.

“The right balance can certainly help a team and we do think that Chris can add quality to the group both on the pitch and off the pitch.”

Kirkland started his career at Coventry City before a £6m move took him to Liverpool in 2001.

He spent time at West Browmich Albion on loan before joining Wigan for who he made 134 appearances.

It was during his time at Wigan that he won an England cap, that coming in a 4-0 win over Greece.

Kirkland joined Sheffield Wednesday in May 2012, playing 91 times for the Owls.

After completing the move to Preston, Kirkland said: “It has been a bit of a strange summer.

“Over the last 18 years I’ve always known what club I was going to be at during pre-season.

“I turned down an offer at Sheffield Wednesday in the summer. I had a great time there, but I just wanted to try something new and this opportunity came up and I’m delighted to be here.

“I’ve heard a lot about the club, I’ve been in the game a long time and I know a lot about Preston North End’s history and what a great club it is. I am delighted it has been sorted out.”

North End had first spoken to Kirkland earlier in the summer when they were looking at alternatives to Sam Johnstone.