PNE keeper’s a top Pick!

Preston goalkeeper Jordan Pickford, signed from Sunderland on Friday, makes a save in his debut against Bury at Gigg Lane
Preston goalkeeper Jordan Pickford, signed from Sunderland on Friday, makes a save in his debut against Bury at Gigg Lane
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Simon Grayson believes Preston North End have got their hands on a talented young goalkeeper in Jordan Pickford.

The 21-year-old made his debut in Saturday’s 3-2 defeat at Bury after joining the evening before on loan from Sunderland for the season.

Lilywhites boss Grayson had been looking to bring Sam Johnstone back from Manchester United.

A combination of United not being in a position yet to let Johnstone out and Pickford being made available by the Black Cats, led to Friday’s change of course.

Johnstone, and Declan Rudd before him, both impressed during their time at Deepdale and Pickford comes at a similar stage of his development.

“United basically said that they were not prepared to make a decision on Sam yet,” Grayson told the Evening Post. “We waited all summer for news on the situation but we got to a stage where we just felt we were leaving ourselves too vulnerable.

“There was the risk of not getting Sam and then we would have missed out on Jordan, who would have gone to another Championship club.

“During pre-season we had kept our eye on keepers and Jordan was top of the list of young English goalkeepers who could be available.

“Does it close the door on Sam? You would think so, although you can’t say yes or no because anything could happen in the future.

“We are just very happy to have got Jordan here and we go into the season now with a very good goalkeeper.”

Grayson’s next piece of the jigsaw in his recrutiment is likely to be a right-back, possibly today.

He has had to play 17-year-old scholar Clive Smith at right-back for the last two friendlies. Tom Clarke and Calum Woods both sat out the Bury defeat with minor injuries.

Preston saw their long chase for Tendayi Darikwa end frustratingly last week, with him joining Burnley.

Speaking for the first time about how that saga concluded, Grayson said: “Chesterfield wanted a fee which they rated the player at.

“Eventually we agreed to that and that is why it dragged on so much.

“The respective valuations were a long way apart to start with but we got to the point where there was an agreement. Once the fee got agreed, I met with the player and then he was still wanting to meet Burnley the next day.

“Once we got into that situation, we decided to pull out because it showed me the player wasn’t 100% committed to coming to Preston.

“We weren’t going to wait any longer and we have other targets.

“In fact, we are very close to bringing a right-back in.

“There might be other positions we can look at.

“The Bury result showed that when we have a few injuries, we might need an extra couple of bodies in.

“I think we have money available to go and do things, whether it is the loan market again or buying players.”

Another absentee at Bury was Jermaine Beckford, Grayson saying it was likely the striker would be fit to return against Middlesbrough.