PNE keeper coach is highly regarded

Alan Kelly

Alan Kelly

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Simon Grayson believes that Alan Kelly’s input at Deepdale has helped Preston North End attract quality goalkeepers to the club on loan.

Jordan Pickford is currently impressing between the posts, earning the man of the match award against Bristol City in midweek after making a string of good saves.

Sam Johnstone and Declan Rudd have also worn the gloves in recent seasons, under the watchful eye of goalkeeper coach Kelly.

Grayson inherited Rudd when he took the North End manager’s job in February 2013, Rudd having arrived the previous month on loan from Norwich City.

He then arranged a deal to keep Rudd for the whole of the following season.

Johnstone came in from Manchester United for the second-half of last term and was a target for this campaign.

When United were not in a position to let him out, Grayson moved to sign Pickford on a season’s loan from Sunderland.

Grayson said: “The three lads we have had on loan have all got similar qualities and some different qualities.

“We have been fortunate to have had three very good young goalkeepers.

“The clubs we have got them from have been happy for them to come here, knowing they will get game time and knowing they will get expertise coaching from Alan Kelly.

“Kells is held in high regard in the game and it is no coincidence that clubs let their keepers come to us.”

Grayson felt that Pickford was rather too busy on Tuesday night in having to keep Bristol City at bay.

He will be hoping that the England Under-21 keeper isn’t quite so busy in today’s clash with Brentford at Griffin Park.

Said Grayson: “Jordan is there to enhance the team and make important saves when called upon.

“We had the same scenario with Sam Johnstone last season, he made some big saves at important times.

“Jordan has fitted in well here, on Tuesday night he was worked a little bit too often but that is what he is there for.”

Meanwhile, Grayson hopes that young PNE defender Ben Davies can use his current loan spell at Southport to ‘kick-on’ a career which has stalled in the past 12 months.

Davies has played twice for Port since joining them on a 28-day loan.

“Ben has had a period of time where he has not kicked on like we would have liked him to do,” said Grayson.

“At the start of last season we gave him his chance at left-back but he has found himself not involved as much.

“He needs some football and going to Southport gives him that opportunity.

“Ben has had to step down because I think he is a good League One or League Two player at the moment.

“Going to the Conference is probably a step below where he is at, but he needs game time and needs to get back into the public eye.”