Simon Grayson has praised the professionalism and patience of Thorsten Stuckmann after a season of bench-warming as Preston North End’s back-up goalkeeper.
Declan Rudd was set to complete a full campaign of league games in today’s clash with Crewe at Gresty Road.
Just twice has Stuckmann featured in the first-team this term, away to Burnley in August’s Capital One Cup and against Oldham in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy.
Lilywhites boss Grayson admits that he had considered giving the German keeper a game in the final run-in, but decided to stick with Rudd.
Grayson told the Evening Post: “Every player wants to play and it is quite an unique situation for goalkeepers.
“They know they can be in the team for a long time and also know they can be out for a long time.
“Stucki knew last summer when we were talking about a new contract that there was a good chance we were going to bring Declan back.
“He has had one or two games and in an ideal world I would have liked to have played him a bit more – and he would certainly have liked to.
“The lad trains ever so well every day, he is very professional.
“If something happened over the next few weeks and we had to play him, I would have no qualms because Stucki is a very good goalkeeper.
“There are a lot of teams in our division who would have him as their No.1.
“What I like about Stucki is that he works in training as if he playing every game.
“His preparation with Alan Kelly is very good.
“We had considered playing him over the last few weeks but we decided to keep playing Declan and keep some stability in the team to some extent.”
Stuckmann was North End’s undisputed No.1 from his arrival in November 2011 until February of last year.
In that spell he was voted Player of the Year for the 2011/12 campaign.
Rudd edged him out after joining on loan from Norwich at the end of the January 2013 transfer window.
And this season he has had an iron grip on the keeper’s jersey.
“Dec’s been fantastic in how he has conducted himself, kept himself fit and trained with Alan Kelly,” said Grayson.
“Last year when I came to the club I didn’t know a great deal about him.
“But he impressed us all enormously and we took him back for all of this season.
“Dec has made a couple of mistakes but the one thing he doesn’t do is let him affect him in that game or the next one.
“He has had to work hard because he’s got Stucki for competition.
“As for Dec’s future, we are in the hands of Norwich and where they will be next season.
“Once the season has finished we can look at the whole situation and cross that bridge then.
“The ideal situation would be Norwich staying in the Premier League and us going up to the Championship.
“What bodes well for Dec is that he has had a full season at his age.
“He has a bright future ahead of him, wherever that may be.”