Kirkland glad to be a PNE player

Chris Kirkland
Chris Kirkland
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Chris Kirkland had his pick of clubs over the summer before choosing to sign for Preston North End this week.

heffield Wednesday, Burnley, Bury, Wigan and Bradford have all courted the keeper’s services over the last month or so.

But it was a late move from North End which got him to Deepdale on Wednesday.

Having spent the last three seasons with Sheffield Wednesday, the 34-year-old was moments away from signing -up for a fourth term with the Owls.

A change of heart saw him decide not to put pen to paper, with him preferring a commute to somewhere closer to his Ormskirk home.

On Tuesday night of this week, Bradford was on the cards as his next employer.

That was until PNE came calling with their offer.

Reflecting on the last few weeks, Kirkland said: “I was going to stay at Sheffield Wednesday.

“ I reported back for the first day of pre-season and had the pen in my hand.

“But I thought I needed a change and I told them I’m not going to do this.

“They were disappointed but I felt it was the right decision.

“I started getting offers but a lot were down in London or far away – I didn’t want that.

“There was a bit of interest shown by Preston quite early on, it didn’t materialise for whatever reason.

“I went away with Bury training for a week then I went to Burnley. Both of them offered me something.

“Wigan came in at the last minute for me but that deal collapsed on the day I was going to sign.

“I was going to go to Bradford but got a call off Preston again at 11pm at night the day before I was due to sign for Bradford.

“They asked me to come and sign the next morning which I did.

“It’s done now and I’m delighted to be here.

“I know about the club, I’m local so a lot of people I’ve played with in the game speak very highly of the club.

“Have the last few weeks been stressful? – it was for my wife!

“But that’s football, I’m old enough to know how it works.

“I made the decision to try and stay local to the North West which obviously limits most things.

“I knew it was going to be tough but I always backed my ability – teams are always looking for experience.

“It’s a young squad here and I’m the oldest by a long shot.

“Anything I can do to help the young lads that’s great.

“I know about the staff, I’ve only been here a day but it feels like I’ve been here years already. I’m looking forward to cracking on.”

Kirkland will be competing with Jordan Pickford for the keeper’s jersey, under the watchful eye of Simon Grayson and goalkeeper coach Alan Kelly.

Working with Kelly does appeal to the 34-year-old who won an England cap in 2006.

“Alan is very experienced, a very good keeper in his day,” said Kirland.

“You never stop learning and anything he can teach me will be greatly received.

“I know all about Alan’s dad, I know about the tradition of the club,

“Preston have got some very famous players and I know Kevin Kilbane well from my Wigan days.

“Kev told me he was delighted I’ve come here.

“He said I’ll love it and I know I will. This is a new chapter in my career and I’m looking forward to it.”

While it is Pickford in possession of the No.1 shirt, Kirkland intends pushing him rather than just accepting a seat on the bench.

He said: “Whoever’s in goal will have to perform to stay in goal.

“I’m 34 now and I still feel I’ve got five or six years left if I look after myself well.

“Everyone documents what’s happened in the past but that’s gone now.

“Over the last three years I think I had the best fitness record at Sheffield.

“I know what my body needs, I’m experienced enough.”