Preston North End loan keeper Sam Johnstone has admitted he wants to spend the rest of the season at Deepdale.
The Manchester United shot-stopper enjoyed a five-month loan spell at North End last season and was part of the side that sealed promotion to the Championship by beating Swindon Town 4-0 in the League One Play-off final in May.
Johnstone looked set to be elevated into the Premier League giants’ starting XI after racking-up the most minutes on the Red Devils’ pre-season tour of the USA, with question marks over Spanish No.1 David de Gea’s future at Old Trafford.
But Argentinian keeper Sergio Romero was preferred ny Louis van Gaal at the start of the season and after De Gea’s move to Real Madrid fell through, Johnstone fell further down the pecking order.
The 22-year-old’s bid to go out on loan and play first team football was blocked by United at the start of the season and Johnstone, from Leyland, admitted it was frustrating.
However, a chat with van Gaal on Tuesday paved the way for Johnstone’s return to PNE, especially as there were rumours that England Under-21s goalkeeper Jordan Pickford was set to be recalled early from his year-long loan at North End by parent club Sunderland.
Indeed, Pickford was recalled by Black Cats boss Sam Allardyce and Van Gaal allowed Johnstone to rejoin the Lilywhites on a 28-day loan agreement.
The young keeper hopes that will be extended after playing his first league game of the season in the Lilywhites’ 2-1 victory over Rotherham on Saturday.
He said: “Initially I’m only here for a month so hopefully we can win all those games. I’m hoping the loan gets extended – I want to be here until the end of the season.
“I want to play football, I’m 22 years old. Last year, I had the first half of the season at Doncaster and the second half at Preston.
“Playing the whole season kicks you on, makes you grow up and learn more about the game. “I think a lot of people knew that Jordan was going back to Sunderland. He has done well here and I pushed to come back.
“The manager (Simon Grayson) wanted me back but it came around quite late.
“I spoke to the Manchester United manager on Tuesday and then it was more or less sorted on Thursday.
“Coming back feels good. Nothing has changed, just a few new faces.
“I trained with the lads on Thursday and Friday and it feels like I haven’t been away.”
Johnstone’s return to Deepdale did not start with a clean sheet as Rotherham’s Tony Andreu nodded the ball past him in the 36th minute. But poacher Eoin Doyle’s tap-in and an injury time own goal by Jonson Clarke-Harris gave North End all three points.
Johnstone says PNE need to start taking their chances.
He said: “It would have been a good result for Rotherham to draw, but for us, with the chances we created and didn’t put away, it would not have been a good result to draw. “Last year the lads had the ability and they worked hard that is why we got promoted. We need to take that into this league and finish our chances.”
when we get them because it is a tough league and there are some big teams so we have to take our chances.”