Familiar faces for new boy Stevie

England's Wayne Rooney (right) shakes hands with Scotland's Stevie May after the final whistle in the International Friendly at Celtic Park, Glasgow, last year
England's Wayne Rooney (right) shakes hands with Scotland's Stevie May after the final whistle in the International Friendly at Celtic Park, Glasgow, last year
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Stevie May has crammed plenty into the last couple of seasons.

Two years ago, he was just starting to establish himself in the St Johnstone team after spending much of the previous campaign on loan with Hamilton.

Wind the clock forward to the present day and May has played in two cup finals in Scotland, had a taste of the Europa Cup, won his first Scotland cap and twice featured in big-money transfers.

The second of those moves brought him to Preston on transfer deadline day last week, the 22-year-old joining from Sheffield Wednesday.

After a couple of training sessions at the back end of last week with his new team-mates, the build-up starts today towards a likely debut against Derby County at Deepdale on Saturday.

May told the Evening Post: “A lot has gone on in the last 18 months to two years, probably more than I expected if you’d asked me that a while ago.

“Everything happens for a reason and I have ended up at Preston for a reason –hopefully it is going to be a successful season for everyone involved.

“The feeling I got about Preston when I came over is that it is a real family club, it reminds me a lot of St Johnstone but a bigger version.

“Everyone I met last week was very friendly and welcoming and it helps that there are a few boys here who I was with at Sheffield Wednesday last season.

“It makes things a bit easier when you walk into the dressing room and see some familiar faces.

“Speaking to those lads, they all said it was a really good place to come and play football at and I’m delighted to have got this move done.”

May is referring to Will Keane, Marnick Vermijl and Chris Kirkland who were all team-mates of his at Wednesday last season.

Keane spent time on loan with the Owls from Manchester United, Vermijl moved to Hillsborough from United in February, while goalkeeper Kirkland had been there for a good few years.

All followed the same path as May in the summer to join North End.

It was May’s scoring record at St Johnstone in the 2013/14 season which put the striker on the radar of clubs in England in the winter transfer window of that campaign.

PNE were one of the clubs to look at him in January 2014 but St Johnstone’s involvement in the Scottish League Cup at the time prevented any move.

The transfer deadline that time fell the night before the final, one which the Perth club – where May had come through the ranks – lost to Aberdeen.

At the end of that season though, he did get a winners’ medal as St Johnstone won the Scottish FA Cup. In August last year, Sheffield Wednesday won the race to sign him, North End among the clubs also eyeing him.

Three months later, May won his first Scotland cap as a 66th minute substitute in the 3-1 defeat to England at Celtic Park.

At Wednesday, 28 starts and 13 sub appearances saw him score seven goals.

It is a tally which he will certainly be looking to improve on greatly.

The change of management at the Owls during the summer was the beginning of the end for May there. Stuart Gray, the manager who signed him, was replaced by Carlos Carvalhal at the end of June.

Wednesday were the busiest club in the Championship in terms of revamping their squad, with the number of new signings in the high teens.

Hence May became available, PNE securing his signature at the third attempt.

“The way it all panned out, there was a lot of speculation at Wednesday,” said May.

“If you are not in the starting XI and not in the squad, everyone is thinking ‘what is going on, where is he going to go’? At first I thought that I might go out on loan.

“As it happened, the chance came up to come here on a permanent deal and I’m delighted to have signed.

“They probably didn’t see the best of me at Sheffield Wednesday although I didn’t think I was far away from having a good season.

“Sometimes things don’t go exactly to plan at a club but I still had a good time there.

“It was a good experience, my first taste of English football and of the Championship – I have something to build on.”