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Jordan Pickford has seen first-team action since returning 'to Sunderland

Jordan Pickford has seen first-team action since returning 'to Sunderland

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The goalkeeping situation at Preston North End for the last three years has been an interesting one and certainly sparked plenty of debate.

At this time in 2013, Declan Rudd had just booked in at Deepdale for the first of two loan spells.

Rudd had the best part of a season-and-a-half before the Lilywhites went permanent with the signing of Jamie Jones.

Thorsten Stuckmann, Sam Johnstone, Jordan Pickford and Johnstone again, have all worn the keeper’s jersey since.

On Tuesday night at Derby, Anders Lindegaard will add his name to that list.

Lindegaard, like Pickford and Johnstone, is another club’s goalkeeper.

It is North End’s intention to try and nail down a first-choice shot-stopper in the summer.

The time is probably right for that but do not knock the loan route which they gone down of late.

Granted, it has left them vulnerable to recall, hence the recent comings and goings with Pickford and Johnstone.

But surely better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all?

To have had Pickford wear the Preston No.1 shirt for 27 games on the bounce was something of a privilege.

Let us have it right, the lad will surely play for England in the future.

If – when – that happens, how satisfying it will be to say that he showed his potential here at North End.

Likewise, it was nice to see local lad Johnstone be a big part of last season’s promotion and then to return briefly to cover Pickford’s recall.

Rudd, before them both, performed extremely well and was seen as a big loss when Norwich refused to let him out for a third time.

So juggling loan keepers has surely not been a bad thing. For me, it has been a positive.

The signing of Jones two summers ago was an attempt to firm up the goalkeeper slot, with Stuckmann providing the cover.

Within four months, Stucki was first choice with Jones sat on the bench.

Last January’s arrival of Johnstone saw another keeper reshuffle, as he pushed Stuckmann back to No.2 and left Jones unwanted.

How important it will be then for North End to make a good choice later this year when it comes to getting a pair of hands into the gloves on a full-time basis.

I would expect another move to be made for Johnstone, bearing in mind North End tried to buy him last week and also last summer.

He will only have a year left on his Manchester United contract at the end of this season, so the clock is starting to run down.

These next few months could be frustrating ones for Johnstone, and also Preston, in terms of his unavailability.

Being third-choice keeper is no job for a 22-year-old, not even at a club the size of United.

The third-choice role is best suited to someone younger or much older.

Take for example, Richard Wright at Manchester City, content to be back-up for the last four seasons.

He lasted three whole days on the Preston payroll in July 2012 before requesting to be released from his contract.

A couple of weeks later, Wright joined City as effectively a ‘training-ground’ keeper and has been there ever since.

That kind of role at United is wasting Johnstone’s talent for the time being.

As for Pickford, at least he has seen action since heading back to Sunderland.

To date, he has played two games in the Black Cats’ team and been on the bench twice.

An educated guess is that he will see further action as the season goes on and plenty more beyond that.

So what of Lindegaard, the latest to wear the gloves?

He is clearly a talented keeper, having played games in the Premier League Champions League for United and on the international stage for Denmark.

For someone of 31, the Dane has not played a huge amount of football – around 100 club games.

It could be that his time at North End could provide him with the most consistent run of matches he has had since moving to England.

Moving on from keeper talk, it is at the other end of the pitch where Preston fans will be hoping to see transfer activity before Monday night’s deadline.

If a striker is landed, there will be plenty of expectation on his shoulders from the start.

PNE’s shortage of goals is well documented, although they have found a way of accumulating points without having to be free-scoring.

We await with interest.