Debut was deserved for Preston North End keeper Connor Ripley says boss
Alex Neil felt the time was right to hand Connor Ripley the gloves for a delayed debut against Sheffield Wednesday.
More than three months after his January arrival from Middlesbrough, the keeper made his bow in the 3-3 draw with the Owls at Deepdale.
For a big chunk of the time between him signing and finally pulling on the green jersey, the 26-year-old had been sidelined with an ankle injury.
Ripley was back in the squad for the Easter Monday trip to Wigan and Neil opted to play him last Saturday in the final home game of the season.
PNE boss Neil said: “We had to have a look at Connor.
“We’d brought him in and then he got an injury, which was unfortunate for him.
“I wanted to see him on the pitch at this level and see how he did.
“Connor did really well, his kicking was good, it had good depth to it.
“His command of the box was good and in the first half he made a fantastic save with his feet from Steven Fletcher.
“He is another one who is new to this level, we’ve had a lot of lads in the same boat this season.”
Neil’s next decision will be whether to stick with Ripley in the final game of the season at Brentford on Sunday or recall Declan Rudd.
This season, Rudd has played 36 Championship matches and had featured in 28 games in a row up until last Saturday.
Rudd started the campaign as first-choice before losing his place to Chris Maxwell in September.
Maxwell played eight league games, a run ended by his red card at Ipswich Town on November 3.
Said Neil: “We want competition in every area of the pitch.
“What happens is the players tend to make decisions for you in terms of who plays.
“If someone plays well, they stay in the side and keep the other guy out.”
North End landed Ripley in January on the back of an impressive loan spell at Accrington Stanley.
He made 24 appearances for the League One club in the first half of the season.
With first-team chances at Middlesbrough having been few and far between, Ripley decided the time was right to cut his ties with the Teesiders.
After his arrival at North End he was on the bench for four games before snapping an ankle ligament in a bounce game at the training ground.
Michael Crowe was Rudd’s understudy while Ripley was sidelined.