Keeper following in dad’s footsteps at North End

Goalkeeper Sam Johnstone has followed in his dad Glenn's footsteps
Goalkeeper Sam Johnstone has followed in his dad Glenn's footsteps
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New Preston North End goalkeeper Sam Johnstone is following in his dad’s footsteps by coming to Deepdale.

The 21-year-old joined PNE on loan for the rest of the season from Manchester United yesterday, having cut short a loan stint with Doncaster Rovers.

His dad Glenn Johnstone played 10 games for North End in the 1992/93 campaign and it would have been more had he not suffered a career-ending knee injury.

Johnstone is a local lad, born in the city and brought up in Leyland.

After agreeing the loan switch – which is with a view to a permanent move in the summer – Johnstone said: “I’m very happy to be here.

“It’s my home town. I grew up in Preston and it is a proud day for me and for my family.

“If anyone else other than Preston had shown an interest in me, the likelihood would have been I would have stayed at Doncaster, who have been very good to me.

“But this being my home-town club it was difficult to turn down.

“My dad played here a long time ago and he is happy and proud and I am looking forward to playing at Deepdale.”

The Johnstones are not the first father and son to have pulled on a Preston shirt at different times.

Mark Lawrenson followed in the footsteps of his dad Tom Lawrenson, as did Alan Kelly with Alan Kelly Snr.

Sam Allardyce and his son Craig both played for North End, as did Archie and Scott Gemmill.

Johnstone was among a few keepers who Preston had on their radar at the end of last season as they looked to replace Declan Rudd.

At the time he was not available for loan from United and it was in October that the Red Devils lent him out to Doncaster.

It was only last week that he extended that loan with Donny until the end of this month.

But when North End made their move, United recalled him on Sunday and put in motion his switch here.

The loan is with a view to a permanent transfer at the end of the season, although the talk is of that being dependant on the Lilywhites reaching the Championship.

Johnstone’s arrival means the first-team squad is carrying three senior keepers.

Thorsten Stuckmann has been in possession of the gloves since November 22, Jamie Jones having played the first four months of the season.

It could be that Johnstone goes straight into the side for Friday night’s home clash with Leyton Orient.

But he is cup-tied for the FA Cup and JPT, having played for Doncaster in those competitions.

If he does make his debut on Friday, it will not be the first time he has played at Deepdale.

In May 2012, he skippered England Under-19s against Slovenia and Switzerland.

While highly rated by United, Johnstone is down the keeper’s pecking order.

He has David de Gea, recent signing Victor Valdes, Anders Lindegaard and Ben Amos ahead of him at Old Trafford.

As well at being at Donny, Johnstone has gained first-team experience during loan stints with Scunthorpe, Walsall and Yeovil.

In total, he has played 53 games at senior level.

North End still have their eye on strengthening outfield areas of the squad.

Callum Robinson remains a target, with PNE manager Simon Grayson keen to bring the teenage striker back after his initial loan spell from Aston Villa was cut short in November.