Who will fill PNE’s No.1 jersey next season?

Chris Maxwell
Chris Maxwell
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North End reporter Dave Seddon takes a closer look at the possible candidates

Preston North End’s attempt to strengthen their goalkeeping department and give it a more permanent look, is proving an interesting search and one needing a degree of patience.

Anders Lindegaard

Anders Lindegaard

After leaning heavily on the loan market for keepers in recent seasons, it became the intention of Simon Grayson this summer to land a couple of full-time shot-stoppers.

Not that loans had proved unsuccessful – far from it – with Declan Rudd, Sam Johnstone (twice), Jordan Pickford and Anders Lindegaard serving PNE well.

Pickford you would argue, was one of the most talented players to pull on the Lilywhites goalkeeper’s jersey for many a year.

However, you are always at the beckon and call of parent clubs with loan players.

Hence the desire to try and conduct some permanent business between the sticks in the build-up to next term.

Things could yet conspire to mean another move in the loan market is the chosen route.

But the ideal one would be to give Chris Maxwell a permanent colleague in the Deepdale keeper’s union.

Maxwell was a new signing within nine days of the end of last season, his Bosman switch from Fleetwood officially taking effect from July 1.

So what of the options to join him?

Much of the focus has been on trying to bring Lindegaard back, this time on a full-time basis.

The Dane is certainly the most experienced of the recent loanees, in age anyway.

First-team appearances were thin on the ground until he came to PNE though, Lindegaard having warmed the bench for large spells of his time at Manchester United and then certainly at West Bromwich Albion last season.

It will need Albion to come to a settlement with Lindegaard over the remaining year of his contract, in order for him to take the wage drop needed to fit in with North End’s budget.

Should such a settlement not be forthcoming or drag on towards the start of pre-season training, no doubt attention will turn elsewhere.

Rudd and Johnstone have both been mentioned as possibilities, North End boss Simon Grayson often keen to work with players he knows.

It was Norwich man Rudd who last filled the PNE keeper’s role with some longevity.

Signed during the closing weeks of Graham Westley’s reign, Rudd was inherited by Grayson in February 2013.

He played all but two of the remaining games that season and returned on loan from the Canaries for the whole of the 2013/14 campaign.

Jamie Jones joined in June 2014 and started the following season as first-choice, only to lose his place to Thorsten Stuckmann with Johnstone then borrowed from Manchester United.

Another name on the list of possibilities is Angus Gunn at Manchester City.

That would be something of a departure in terms of him not yet having caught a ball at first-team level – Rudd, Johnstone and Pickford arrived having already played senior football.

It will be interesting what happens before June 30.