PNE target Sam jets off to States

Preston target Sam Johnstone has gone to the USA with Manchester United
Preston target Sam Johnstone has gone to the USA with Manchester United
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Preston North End loan target Sam Johnstone will spend most of pre-season on the other side of the Atlantic, leaving PNE with an anxious wait over whether they can bring him back to Deepdale.

The 22-year-old goalkeeper flew with Manchester United’s squad to Seattle yesterday and will be away until the end of the month.

North End want Johnstone on a season-long loan after a successful five-month stay last term which saw him keep 13 clean sheets in 25 games.

An agreement is in place with United for him to come to PNE, should they be in a position to let him out.

But just at the moment, it is all up in the air with the Red Devils having to yet to sort out their keeper options for the forthcoming season.

Johnstone is one of three keepers to have gone on United’s USA tour, David de Gea and Anders Lindegaard the others.

Interestingly, Victor Valdes has not joined them and it could be the former Barcelona keeper who holds the key to what happens with Johnstone.

Valdes says he wants to stay at Old Trafford amid speculation linking him with a move to Turkey.

If that is the case, Johnstone would be behind Valdes, De Gea and Lindegaard in the pecking order – United want three keepers in their squad.

Should De Gea move to Real Madrid, United would replace him, so it looks more like that what Valdes does next will be of interest to PNE.

The USA tour lasts until July 29, the Red Devils playing friendlies against Club America, San Jose Earthquakes, Barcelona and Paris St Germain.

Casting his eye over the keeper situation, PNE boss Simon Grayson is content to wait for Johnstone.

However, Grayson also realises that there might come a point where he has to switch direction and move for someone else.

For the time being, he will use Jamie Jones and Steven James in the friendly games, the pair likely to share the glove duties in tonight’s friendly against Bamber Bridge at the Sir Tom Finney Stadium (7pm).

In Saturday’s goalless draw at Chorley, Jones played 70 minutes before giving way to James, who signed a new one-year deal over the summer.

Grayson said: “From a selfish point of point, I hope Manchester United resolve things quickly, which would enable us to bring Sam in.

“He wants to come back and was fantastic for us last season.

“It is a tricky situation – we want to give ourselves the best opportunity to get Sam but we also have to be careful in case the answer is eventually ‘no’.

“We feel it is worth the wait for Sam but we know where we can potentially get keepers on loan from or ones who are still free agents.

“We have a really good relationship with United and they are making all the right noises that if they get their situation resolved, we can have Sam back. First they have to get themselves sorted.”