Chris Maxwell or Declan Rudd? Choice of keeper is hot topic for Preston boss

A major talking point among Preston fans following the two Easter defeats was the change of goalkeeper.

Declan Rudd played in the Good Friday loss at Sheffield Wednesday, before the gloves were given to Chris Maxwell in Monday’s reverse to Derby.

Until recently, the keeper’s position had been rather stable this season.

Maxwell had an unbroken run as the No.1 from the start of the campaign until January.

Rudd had nine games on the bounce, a sequence ended by him missing the 2-0 win at Sunderland to attend the birth of his son.

North End manager Alex Neil restored him to the side at Hillsborough but it proved a short-lived stay.

Alex Neil has a big decision to make between Chris Maxwell and Declan Rudd

Alex Neil has a big decision to make between Chris Maxwell and Declan Rudd

Asked about the change of keeper for the Derby clash, Neil said: “Chris played very well at Sunderland.

“Circumstances had taken Declan out of the team with the birth of his son which was a little bit unfair on him.

“Saying that, Sunderland was the first clean sheet we had kept for quite a long time.

“Chris has kept quite a few clean sheets for us this season.

Preston keeper Chris Maxwell after being beaten by Tom Lawrence's free-kick on Monday

Preston keeper Chris Maxwell after being beaten by Tom Lawrence's free-kick on Monday

“We conceded four goals at Sheffield Wednesday and I didn’t think all four were great to be honest.

“So I had a decision to make and I made it – I will stand by that decision.”

There was a feeling that Maxwell should have done better with Derby’s winner, Tom Lawrence beating him with a free-kick which dipped and swerved.

Asked about the goal, Neil said: “I don’t think he should get beaten from that distance.”

Maxwell has started 30 Championship games and one in the League Cup this season.

He has kept 12 clean sheets in the league, with four of those in the opening three weeks of the campaign and another four during December.

A thigh injury suffered in pre-season sidelined Rudd for more than three months.

Once fit, he acted as cover on the bench before making his first appearance in the FA Cup win at Wycombe.

Rudd played in the next round at Sheffield United and kept his place for the next nine Championship games.

He kept a clean sheet in the 3-0 win at Nottingham Forest.

North End return to action on Saturday against Reading and it will be interesting to see which keeper Neil opts for at the Madejski Stadium.