PNE boss focuses on Pickford

Jordan Pickford warms-up  before PNE's game with Middlesbrough
Jordan Pickford warms-up before PNE's game with Middlesbrough
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Preston North End manager Simon Grayson says it is time ‘to put to bed’ talk of a loan swoop for Sam Johnstone.

While the Lilywhites waited for most of pre-season to see if the Manchester United goalkeeper would become available, they changed course at the end of July and signed Jordan Pickford on a season’s loan from Sunderland.

Pickford made his competitive debut in Sunday’s goalless draw with Middlesbrough at Deepdale and will be between the posts for North End’s visit to Crewe in the Capital One Cup on Wednesday night.

At the weekend, Johnstone was on the bench for United against Tottenham Hotspur - chosen ahead of David de Gea, Victor Valdes and Anders Lindegaard, with new signing Sergio Romero starting.

He has spoken about wanting to come back on loan to Deepdale if the chance arises.

Speaking at his Tuesday morning press conference at Springfields to look ahead to the Crewe clash, Grayson said: “When you are No.2 for Manchester United, I don’t think the opportunity to go out on loan is going to happen.

“We have to put that one to bed.

“We hold Sam in high regard as we do Jordan Pickford - we have a really good goalkeeper in Jordan.

“We made a decision to wait for Sam in the summer but then moved for Jordan because we had the opportunity to get a really good young English goalkeeper who is looking for experience and had done well already elsewhere.”

Pickford, 21, had little to do in the way of saves against Boro but his kicking caught the eye.

Grayson said: “Jordan has got a good kick on him, goalkeepers in this day and age have to be able to use the ball well.

“The younger keepers kick well because they are brought up through the academy system with goalkeeper coaches giving them constant advice and coaching.

“Sam had great delivery when he was here last season, so did Declan Rudd before him.

“The older keepers don’t always have the same level of quality with their kicking because it was not something they had to work on so much over the years.

“Jordan’s kicking is a nice weapon to have in his armoury and our armoury.”