While Preston North End supporters’ eyes have been trained on the transfer window, a new name from within the ranks has slipped quietly into the Lilywhites first-team squad.
Matt Hudson, 16, was on the bench as back-up goalkeeper for last Saturday’s FA Cup tie with Sheffield United.
The first-year trainee will be among the substitutes again next Tuesday as North End travel to Bramall Lane to take on the Blades in the fourth-round replay.
Hudson is needed as cover on the bench for Thorsten Stuckmann in the FA Cup as Sam Johnstone is cup-tied.
Jamie Jones and Steven James are out on loan at Coventry and Skelmersdale respectively.
In Tuesday night’s Johnstone’s Paint Trophy tie at Walsall, PNE manager Simon Grayson opted not to have a keeper among the five substitutes which the competition allows.
Grayson told the Evening Post: “Matt has trained with us quite a bit. Alan Kelly rates him highly and so do the academy staff.
“During the training sessions he has looked composed and very assured.
“He looks like he can handle being with the first team.
“When the opportunity came along for Jamie Jones to get some first-team football at Coventry, that left us short for the weekend.
“Alan Kelly had no hesitation that the kid would be fine for the bench.
“Steven James is also out on loan at the moment, so we had to have some cover for Stucki.
“Matt thoroughly enjoyed being with the squad at his young age – it is something he will remember for the rest of his career.
“We do believe that he has a bright future.”
At Crawley in the league this weekend, Johnstone is set to resume in goal.
Meanwhile, the hired-out Jones hopes that his loan with Coventry can continue for the rest of the season.
He has initially joined the Sky Blues for 31 days but there is scope to extend it to the maximum 93 days allowed for an emergency loan.
Said Jones: “I’d like to stay on beyond the month and when people have asked I have said it’s until the end of the season.
“I’m an experienced keeper in this league – Saturday was my 200th start.”