PNE boss says pair will get fixed up

Goalkeeper Chris Kirkland was not offered a new deal by PNE

Goalkeeper Chris Kirkland was not offered a new deal by PNE

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Preston North End boss Simon Grayson expects Neil Kilkenny and Chris Kirkland to be snapped up quickly.

The pair were released by North End at the end of the season – the manager deeming them both to be surplus to requirements.

Kirkland arrived at Deepdale last summer – primarily to act as an experienced understudy to Jordan Pickford, who had arrived at the club on loan from Sunderland.

The former Liverpool and Sheffield Wednesday keeper turned out to be the only stable member of the goalkeeping department throughout the season.

After Pickford was recalled by the Black Cats in January following a number of impressive displays, Grayson borrowed Sam Johnstone from Manchester United.

His second loan spell at the club did not last long as United summoned him back to Old Trafford at the start of February.

That was cue for the arrival of former Red Devil Anders Lindegaard, who joined on loan from West Bromwich Albion.

Kirkland was restricted to just six first-team appearances over the season, although he did end the campaign as first choice after Lindegaard suffered a shoulder injury away to Birmingham City.

Kilkenny spent nearly three years at Deepdale after signing – initially on loan – from Bristol City.

In total he made 95 appearances for the club and played a starring role in last season’s glorious play-off final victory over Swindon Town at Wembley.

The Australian – who has not ruled out returning Down Under to continue his career – found himself on the periphery this season, especially over the second half of the campaign.

The pair were the highest-profile names on the released list, which also included Kyel Reid and Andy Little, as well as young professionals Josh Heaton, Jack Ryan and Nick Anderton.

“Kila and Chris were great players around the dressing room and never let us down,” Grayson said.

“Sometimes you have to make these decisions to free up positions in the squad and free up a little bit of money in the budget.

“These are the hard decisions you take as a manager. Last year was even harder when I was releasing players just a few days after we won at Wembley.

“I wish all the lads who have been released the very best in the future.

“I would expect them all to get fixed up quite easily – I see Nick Anderton has got himself a two-year contract at Barrow, which is great for him.

“Chris Kirkland will get plenty of offers, so too Neil Kilkenny.

“Kila was unfortunate not to have played as much as he would have liked last season.

“We were strong in midfield, well off for numbers.

“Sometimes you have to let players go to benefit their career.”