Deepdale boss hails Preston North End keeper Declan Rudd’s growing maturity

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Alex Neil has been full of praise for the performances and improvements made by goalkeeper Declan Rudd.

Rudd was an ever present in the PNE team this season, playing every minute of every league game.

Only three players in the last 15 years have achieved that feat for North End, all of them goalkeepers.

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Carlo Nash was ever present in the 2005/06 season, as was Andrew Lonergan in the 2008/09 season.

Declan Rudd during PNE’s recent visit to BrentfordDeclan Rudd during PNE’s recent visit to Brentford
Declan Rudd during PNE’s recent visit to Brentford

Rudd himself was the last player to not miss a minute, doing so when on loan in 2014/14 whilst in League One.

He has kicked on this season, with question marks around who would be first choice in the build-up to the campaign, onlookers were left in no doubt as to whose position it was.

The former Norwich City man has had competition for the No.1 spot since his permanent arrival in 2017.

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First there was a back-and-forth with Chris Maxwell, before Conor Ripley also staked a claim.

“I think Declan’s done very well,” said Neil. “I’ve seen a big difference in Declan, bearing in mind I’ve had him a long time. I’ve probably had him for four of the five years that I’ve been down here in England.

“He’s done well, he’s matured a lot, I think his performances have matured a lot.

“I think he’s realised where his strengths are and extenuated his strengths. He’s become a good, solid goalkeeper for us.

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“He’s made some good saves, his kicking has improved and with Jonathan Gould working with him, his maturity has kicked him on another level for us.”

There will undoubtedly be change in the goalkeeping ranks at Deepdale going into next season, with Mike Pollitt announced as the new goalkeeping coach this week, taking over from New Zealand-bound Gould.

Speaking before the end of the season, Neil did not want to take all the credit for bringing in Gould. It does, however, give a bit of insight into how Pollitt’s services may have been acquired.

He said: “It’s a bit like recruitment, what people tend to think is that because I’m the manager I make every single decision that goes on.

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“What happens is I’ve got a big bearing on most of the decisions that go on but equally, when you’re at a club like Preston, to put every single decision in one person’s hands is never going to be the case because there’s so much riding on it.

“Gouldy was one that we met, I had a big chat with him, he was really eager to come in and help us and he’s been a terrific acquisition.

“He’s really helped Declan, that was very good. It would be unfair of me to take all the credit for bringing him in.”