PNE goalkeeper battling to shake off pre-season injury

Preston North End's Declan Rudd (left) and Chris Maxwell during the pre-match warm-up against Sheffield Wednesday
Preston North End's Declan Rudd (left) and Chris Maxwell during the pre-match warm-up against Sheffield Wednesday
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Alex Neil says Preston are still trying to get Declan Rudd up to speed after the thigh injury he suffered in pre-season.

The summer signing from Norwich strained a muscle in the opening moments of the first friendly at Bamber Bridge on July 7.

Rudd did not feature in any of the other friendlies but was back on the bench for last week’s league opener against Sheffield Wednesday.

However, he sat out the trip to Accrington in midweek with Mat Hudson named as substitute keeper.

North End boss Neil told the Post: “Declan has still got a niggly thigh injury which is taking its time to clear up.

“We got him to the point where he was training and was fine.

“ But because he came here with an injury he picked up at Charlton last season, he had de-conditioned a bit over the summer.

“That means he is not fully up to speed at the moment.

“It is about trying to get him up to speed but without seeing him break down.”

Whether Rudd is on the bench when North End go to Leeds this afternoon, remains to be seen.

If not and Hudson is in the match day squad, it will mark a return to the ground where the youngster made his PNE debut in December 2015.

That day, he came off the bench in the first half when Jordan Pickford was sent-off.

Neil hopes it is not too long before Rudd is back.

He said: “As a player, and having been there myself, it is really frustrating to be in a position like this.

“You want to go in, stake that claim and get the shirt initially.

“It is a much more difficult task to take it off somebody once they have got the shirt.

“That applies for keepers in particular, generally if the goalkeeper is doing well you aren’t going to change it.

“Declan will be frustrated and disappointed he hasn’t managed to stake his claim yet.”

Another PNE player in a similar position to Rudd is Josh Harrop.

The 21-year-old picked up a calf strain early in pre-season and has struggled to fully shake it off.

He has missed the first two games of the season although is now back training.

Said Neil: “Josh has been back training but Tuesday night came a bit too quickly.

“Hopefully we can get him in as quickly as possible but we want him to be right.”

Calum Woods and John Welsh are progressing well as they return from long-term injuries.

Woods made the bench at Accrington but was an used substitute.

“Calum and John are in the same boat, we are gradually re-introducing them and making sure we don’t set them back.”