Lonners dreams of Deepdale return at last
Local lad Andrew Lonergan is hoping to make his first appearance at Deepdale since leaving Preston when Wolves pay a visit on Saturday.
The goalkeeper played 232 games for PNE, making his debut as a 16-year-old.
He left to join Leeds United in July 2011 – Simon Grayson signed him for the Elland Road club – and has not faced his former club since.
Lonergan signed for Wolves in the summer from Fulham and made his league bow for them as a half-time substitute at Blackburn last month when Carl Ikeme was injured.
The 33-year-old kept his place for the 3-2 home defeat to Derby on November 5 but might have Ikeme back for competition this weekend.
“I’ve only been back once to Deepdale as a player, with Fulham last season as a substitute,” Lonergan told the Evening Post.
“Before that, in my season at Leeds and in three years at Bolton, we didn’t play Preston.
“It will be nice to come back and be able to play.
“When Wolves played at Blackburn the other week, Carl Ikeme got a niggle and had to come off at half-time.
“It was a bit of a strange atmosphere because some Blackburn fans boycotted part of the game.
“I stayed in the team in the last game against Derby and hopefully I will do again on Saturday.
“That’s up to the manager and I rate Ikeme as the best keeper I have worked with.”
Lonergan’s time with PNE included a 147-game unbroken run in the first team.
It is not a surprise to learn that he has fond memories of his time with the club.
Said Lonergan: “There were plenty of highlights and probably a game which stands out is when we won 2-1 at Birmingham in April 2009.
“We needed a win to keep us in play-off contention, while Birmingham only needed a point to get promoted.
“It was a Saturday tea-time kick-off on television and we scored late on to win.
“The week before we had beaten Cardiff 6-0 and on the final day, we pipped them to a play-off place by one goal.
“When the time came to leave Preston, I just felt it was the right time to move.
“The summer before, the PNE chairman of the time had turned down a bid from West Bromwich which was a little bit frustrating.
“Looking back, I do wish I could have stayed for all of my career, it would have been nice to have been a one-club man.”
Lonergan speaks highly of Grayson, who took him to Leeds five years ago.
“I like Simon a lot, he is a proper genuine guy, a good manager,” said the keeper.
“There is nothing complicated about him and I enjoyed the time that he was my manager at Leeds.
“I had other offers when I was getting ready to leave Preston but Simon was always on the phone, persuading me to go to Leeds.
“I’m not surprised to see North End doing so well under him, he’s got a proper side of hard-working lads.”