A new battle for the Preston goalkeeping gloves has started.
The arrival of Declan Rudd on loan from Norwich will see him compete with Thorsten Stuckmann.
Rudd, 22, began training with North End yesterday after finalising the loan on Tuesday night.
And he will get his first taste of Deepdale tomorrow when PNE play host to Shrewsbury.
It is likely that the England Under-20 international will watch from the bench, Stuckmann having performed admirably in last week’s 2-2 draw against Coventry.
The goalkeeping department has seen several changes over the last few months.
Stuckmann has been the constant figure throughout, but he has had different company on the training ground as the season has gone by.
For the first few days of pre-season training, Richard Wright was PNE’s second keeper until developing ‘home sickness’ and then signing for Manchester City.
Several trialists were assessed before Steve Simonsen arrived to share the gloves for the first half of the campaign.
His departure last month saw Rhys Taylor fill the void on a non-contract basis.
Now it is Rudd who will be challenging Stuckmann for the first-choice shirt.
This is a whole new experience for him, having been on Norwich’s books since he was eight-years-old.
Rudd is a Norfolk lad and moving to Lancashire will be totally different to life at top-flight Norwich.
He is a keeper whose progress has been tracked by PNE boss Graham Westley since the summer.
This week the opportunity arose for him to go out on loan and push for regular first-team football.
Rudd told the Evening Post: “Norwich signed Lee Camp a couple of weeks ago, which meant I wasn’t going to be involved too much.
“I had a chat with Dave Watson, who is the Norwich goalkeeping coach, about the chance of going out and getting some first-team experience.
“Dave said he would see what he could do and a few days later told me Preston were interested. That was music to my ears.
“It’s a big club that has a good history, and that made my decision easy.
“At Norwich I’ve played 17 first-team games in four years as the competition in front of me has always been strong.
“In that time I’ve been behind Fraser Forster, John Ruddy and now Mark Bunn.
“When you’ve got that quality ahead of you, it is difficult.
“This season I’ve started three cup games and been on the bench for about 20 Premier League matches.
“I’m pleased that I’ve managed to play some first-team games but I’m 22 now and this is a great opportunity to get more experience.
“This is the first time I’ve been on loan anywhere.
“Last season there was going to be an opportunity to go somewhere, but then I got an injury.
“The loan system is a good one for younger players like myself in the Premier League.
“It provides the opportunity to play games and help a club out.
“For managers to show faith in young lads from the Premier League clubs is a big boost.
“When Preston showed their interest, I spoke to Graham Westley on the phone. It was a chat about the club and what he wanted.”
Rudd’s long-term future is at Norwich but until the end of the season, he’s fully focused on making an impact at Deepdale.
While only meeting Stuckmann for the first time at Springfields yesterday, he was already aware of how well thought of the German is at Preston.
Said Rudd: “All of my concentration is on doing well here for the next few months.
“I’ve had no guarantees that I’ll play, it’s up to me to make a good impression.
“There are no guarantees for any position in football and I’m coming to fight for the shirt.
“I’ve just been asked to join the squad and take things from there. Competition in football brings the best out of players.
“Thorsten Stuckmann is a very good goalkeeper and I’m looking forward to working with him day in, day out.
“As well as the football, this is the opportunity to live in a different part of the country.
“I’m from a town called Diss, which is about half-an-hour’s drive away from Norwich. I’ve been at Norwich since I was eight, so this is a totally new experience.
“Living away from my home town and working at a different club will help me develop as a person too.
“I can only see positives from coming to Preston.”
Rudd has been coached well in his time at Carrow Road, with Canaries keeper coach Watson also on the England coaching staff.
“Dave coaches the senior England keepers and is a very good coach,” said Rudd.
“He helped develop John Ruddy to the standard where John got into the England squad.”