PNE step up bid to sign goalkeeper Johnstone

Sam Johnstone
Sam Johnstone
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  • North End keen to bring goalkeeper Sam Johnstone back to Deepdale
  • Manchester United star could return on a season-long loan
  • Simon Grayson looking bring in two full-backs and a striker
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Preston North End will look to make headway this week in their bid to bring goalkeeper Sam Johnstone back to Deepdale.

The 22-year-old played a key role in PNE’s promotion to the Championship after joining on loan from Manchester United in January.

Johnstone kept 13 clean sheets in 25 appearances, three of the shut-outs coming in the play-off matches.

North End are aiming to get him on a season-long loan and have held talks with United.

Those discussions have been positive and now it about getting the green light from the Old Trafford outfit.

What has held up it being completed by now is United waiting to see what the future holds for David de Gea.

Real Madrid are chasing the Spaniard and it might be that Johnstone is needed by United during pre-season until a replacement arrives.

When Johnstone first joined on loan, there was talk of PNE buying him outright this summer.

But another loan seems to suit both clubs and the player, with Preston making a contribution to his wages.

North End manager Simon Grayson made re-signing Johnstone high priorty in his summer planning.

Deals have been done to sign Jermaine Beckford and Paul Gallagher – who were also on loan last season – on permanent contracts.

And knowing that he has the services of Johnstone for the full season, would be a major boost for Grayson.

If Johnstone can be secured, there could be more business to sort in the goalkeeping department.

With Thorsten Stuckmann having left to join Doncaster, it remains to be seen who would back-up to Johnstone.

Jamie Jones is under contract for next season but might not want to settle for a place on the bench.

After losing his first-team place to Stuckmann and then getting pushed further down the pecking order after Johnstone’s arrival, Jones had loan spells at Coventry and Rochdale.

In terms of permanent signings, PNE remain on the trail of a right-back, left-back and striker.

Chesterfield manager Dean Saunders revealed yesterday that the Spireites had turned down a bid from a Championship club for their right-back Tendayi Darikwa.

The 23-year-old, who can also operate at wing-back, swept the board at Chesterfield’s player of the year awards and has a year left on his contract.

Darikwa, who came through the ranks at Chesterfield, has made 151 appearances for the Derbyshire club.

Two of PNE’s supporters clubs are to go head-to-head on the pitch next month in a charity match.

The PNE South Ribble Supporters Group will take on the Preston Supporters Group on Saturday, July 4 at Bamber Bridge’s Sir Tom Finney Stadium.

It will raise money for the Gary Parkinson Trust – former PNE right-back Parkinson suffers from locked-in sydrome after having a stroke in 2010.

The game takes place during Brig’s three-day beer festival, with entry £1.