Jamie Jones’ loan move from Preston North End to Colchester appears to have given him a new lease of life.
The goalkeeper was third choice at Deepdale when he was allowed to join The U’s on a 93-day emergency loan.
With five unbeaten games and two penalty saves under his belt, Jones has been shortlisted for the PFA Fans’ Player of the Month award for League One.
His Colchester debut was an eventful 3-3 draw away to Chesterfield on September 12.
Three days later, the Essex club won 3-2 at Sheffield United, Jones saving an 88th-minute penalty from Blades striker Billy Sharp.
He had also saved a penalty earlier from Sharp but it was ordered to be retaken, Jones having been adjudged to have moved forward off his line too early – he was beaten the second time.
On his home debut later in the same week, Jones saved a penalty in a 2-1 victory over Gillingham.
On Tuesday night, he kept his first clean sheet in a 2-0 home win over Bradford.
Speaking in the wake of his penalty save against Sheffield United, Jones revealed that facing Joe Garner in training at PNE had been a big help.
The 26-year-old said: “I’ve saved a few penalties in my career.
“I was working with Joe Garner at the end of training every day at Preston – he’s taking the pens for them. I’ve brought that into my game.
“I’ve trained hard at Preston, it might not happen for me there this year, but I played a lot of games in pre-season, so I have come to Colchester in top fitness.”
This is Jones’ third loan spell away from North End in eight months. In January, he spent a month with Coventry, before joining Rochdale for the remainder of last season.
Jones had been first choice at Preston after signing on a Bosman in June 2014 after leaving Leyton Orient.
He lost his place in the side to Thorsten Stuckmann last November, dropping to third in the pecking order after Sam Johnstone joined in January.
The summer saw him play in the majority of the Lilywhites’ pre-season friendlies.
With Stuckmann electing to join Doncaster and Johnstone back at Manchester United, Jones got plenty of action.
However, Jordan Pickford was signed on loan from Sunderland ahead of the start of the season and then Chris Kirkland arrived as back-up.
Jones’ loan runs until December 12, the 93 days being the maximum permitted during the Football League’s loan window.
He is one of four Preston players who is out on loan at the moment – youngsters Jack Ryan, Nick Anderton and Ben Davies the others.
Ryan is with Morecambe but the striker has so far only made three appearances for the Shrimps to date.
Left-back Anderton had played nine games for Aldershot, his initial spell having since been extended.
Davies joined Southport on the same day Jones went to Colchester.
The defender has played five games so far for the National League strugglers.
North End view the loan spells for Ryan, Anderton and Davies as an important part of their development.