Ex-Manchester United team-mates gave thumbs-up to PNE new boy Vermijl

Marnick Vermijl in action for Sheffield Wednesday
Marnick Vermijl in action for Sheffield Wednesday
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Preston North End new boy Marnick Vermijl sought the advice of Will Keane and Sam Johnstone in the build-up to his loan move to Deepdale.

he Belgian was a team-mate of both players in Manchester United’s development squad and was also with Keane at Sheffield Wednesday in the second-half of last season.

Johnstone spent five months with PNE last term, with Keane joining on a season’s loan from United in July.

It is a loan deal for the whole of the campaign which has brought Vermijl to North End from Wednesday.

He signed on Thursday after a lengthy pursuit by Simon Grayson and will be in the squad for the season’s opener against Middlesbrough.

Vermijl said: “I have Will Keane here who I know from both United and Wednesday, he will help me integrate.

“When Preston were first interested, I spoke with Will about what the club was like and how he was finding it.

“I heard what his thoughts were, he was enjoying it.

“Sam Johnstone I also spoke with, he loved it here, he said the training was good and they were a great group of lads.”

Vermijl has been in English football since 2010 when United signed him from Belgian club Standard Liege.

He played twice in the Red Devils’ first-team, either side of a year’s loan in Holland with NEC Nijmegen.

He joined Wednesday at the start of February for an undisclosed fee and made 11 appearances for them.

A change of manager over the summer at Hillsborough saw him eventually made available for loan.

Vermijl said: “There has been interest from Preston for quite a long time.

“We got there in the end and I’m happy to be here. When the new manager came in at Sheffield Wednesday he wanted to give everyone a chance first, see all the squad in training.

“We went to Portugal for a week to train and after that, he said a loan was possible.

“I got a full pre-season with them which was important, played in a few games, so I feel 100% fit and ready for the start of the season.

“I’m at a point in my career where I want to play as many games as I can, continue to develop myself as a player.

“Hopefully I will get the chance to do that here.

“I’m really looking forward to the Middlesbrough game on Sunday. Middlesbrough are a good team who will have a good chance of going up – they nearly did it last season.

“Maybe it is a good time to get them on the first game of the season.

“There is a lot of pressure for them to get off to a good start and hopefully it is us who take the three points.

“We are at home which is important and will give it our best shot to get something out of the game.”

North End did ask about a permanent deal for Vermijl but Wednesday would only do a loan.

He has three years left on his contract there and the Owls will monitor his progress as PNE before deciding on his long-term future next summer.

North End manager Simon Grayson says that the chase for Vermijl was an example of how long some deals can take, the initial interest having been early in the close season.

Grayson pointed out that in contrast, Jordan Pickford’s loan from Sunderland was done in less than a day.

“Marnick had a very good upbringing at United and then went to Wednesday,” said Grayson.

“We were aware that he might be available early in pre-season so we asked the question.

“Sheffield Wednesday told us he wasn’t available yet but he could be when they got other players in.

“We went down the line of trying to bring in another player which didn’t happen.

“On the same day that one fell through, Marnick got offered to us.

“Wednesday had got players in and were willing to let him out on loan.

“But even in the last 24-48 hours before the deal got done, there were a few twists and turns in the sage – nothing from our point of view, more from the Sheffield end.

“We are pleased to have got him, Marnick has got good quality and gets up and down the pitch well.

“The lad can play right-back and right wing-back, he was desperate to come here.

“Marnick has played in quite a few games for Wednesday during pre-season – the goal he scored in their friendly last week wasn’t a bad way to round-off there.

“He’s done all his pre-season work, played a couple of games out in Portugal and then in some games back here.

“If I decide to pick him, I would have no worries.”