Johnstone still eyeing PNE loan move

Sam Johnstone
Sam Johnstone
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Goalkeeper Sam Johnstone is still hoping he can join Preston this season.

The Manchester United stopper spent the second half of the last campaign on loan at Deepdale and played at Wembley as North End secured promotion back to the Championship via the League One play-off final.

North End boss Simon Grayson was hoping to re-sign the Preston-born star for this season.

However, the uncertainty surrounding the future of United’s No.1 David de Gea – a target for Spanish giants Real Madrid – this summer has meant Louis van Gaal’s has been unwilling to release Johnstone.

North End waited patiently all summer in the hope that a deal could be struck with United.

Unfortunately, De Gea’s future has yet to be resolved and North End were forced to turn their attentions elsewhere with the start of the new season approaching.

They signed Sunderland stopper Jordan Pickford who made his debut in the 0-0 draw against Middlesbrough at Deepdale in the first game of the season.

Johnstone was an unused substitute on Saturday as Van Gaal decided to drop De Gea and pick Sergio Romero between the sticks for the 1-0 win over Tottenham at Old Trafford.

The 22-year-old admitted he is in a state of limbo at the moment and is unsure as to whether he will be loaned to his hometown club.

Beyond De Gea’s future, Victor Valdés has been told he can leave United after he was left out of the tour due to Van Gaal’s disappointment regarding his attitude. While the Spaniard has a year remaining on his contract, the manager’s fourth keeper, Anders Lindegaard, has also fallen down the pecking order.

Johnstone played 208 minutes of the club’s pre-season tour – the most by any United goalkeeper over the summer.

Asked if he would need Valdés and Lindegaard to remain at United for him to go to Preston, Johnstone said: “Well, hopefully, because I need to play games but on the other hand I am contracted here to Manchester United so I have to see what happens here first. So it does have a knock-on effect on me.

“I finished last season on a high playing [for Preston] in the play-off final at Wembley with my hometown club, so I need to kick on from that but hopefully if I am involved a lot I can still learn here. And if I wasn’t getting the game time here then I could go on loan later in the season. That’s another possibility so we will have to see what happens.

“I appreciated that they (Preston) waited until last weekend. They had to bring someone in because they had their first game on Sunday,” he said. “But if I get the chance to go out on loan I would still like to go back.”