Matt is one for PNE’s future

Keeper Matt Hudson warming up before the FA Cup tie with Manchester United when he was an unused substitute
Keeper Matt Hudson warming up before the FA Cup tie with Manchester United when he was an unused substitute
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Matt Hudson handled his Preston North End debut with confidence and maturity, according to Lilywhites manager Simon Grayson.

The 17-year-old goalkeeper was plunged in for his first-team bow during Sunday’s defeat to Leeds at Elland Road following Jordan Pickford’s red card.

He played more than an hour of the clash and for someone so young, looked confident in his senior surroundings.

Hudson got the nod to be on the bench after a virus ruled back-up keeper Chris Kirkland (below right) out of the trip to Yorkshire.

Grayson said: “What a place to make your debut. I have seen many an experienced goalkeeper crumble at Leeds but Matt did fine.

“He is a good goalkeeper and we have a lot of faith in him.Over recent weeks he has training with the squad and has been going on the away trips to have a look at what it is all about and to get experience.

“Matt has just been called up by England youths for a training camp in the new year, which we’re really pleased about.”

It might be that Hudson finds himself not needed for North End’s visit to Huddersfield on Boxing Day.

The club have appealed Pickford’s red card and Kirkland is expected to have recovered by then from his illness. But if needed, Grayson would have no hesitation in using him again.

“I have no problem whatsoever with pitching Matt in again if that is what we have to do,” said Grayson.

“He has shown that he can handle the occasion by playing at Leeds. Ability-wise, he’s up there in our front three with Jordan Pickford (below) and Chris Kirkland – that is how good we rate him.”

Hudson’s appearance from the bench on Sunday was his second game in three days. On Friday afternoon, he played for Preston’s youth team in a 3-1 victory at Accrington Stanley.

The teenager, born in Southport, is a second-year trainee with North End.

Looking back on his debut, Hudson said: “It was a great experience and I loved every minute of it when I got on.

“I think I did well. I didn’t have too much to do but the team played well and we all dug in together.

“Thankfully the gaffer has given me the chance to come on and I think I took the chance well.”

Hudson sat on the first-team bench three times last season during PNE’s FA Cup run.

With Jamie Jones and Steven James out on loan and the then first-choice keeper Sam Johnstone cup-tied, he was a substitute in both fourth-round matches against Sheffield United and then against Manchester United in the fifth round at Deepdale.

The 3-1 replay victory against the Blades at Bramall Lane saw him earn his first win bonus at senior level.