Declan Rudd finally made a third debut for Preston at the weekend but is likely to have to be continue being patient in his desire for regular football.
The goalkeeper got the nod for Saturday’s 5-1 victory over Wycombe – Rudd’s first competitive game since signing for North End last summer from Norwich.
Rudd replaced Chris Maxwell who had played every game this season.
Maxwell was rested and did not make the trip to Adams Park, with Mathew Hudson on the bench as cover.
It has been a frustrating time for Rudd since he joined PNE in June for an undisclosed fee.
He had two successful loan spells with North End in 2013 and 2014 and was brought back in a permanent deal to compete with Maxwell.
But a thigh injury which he suffered in the first friendly of the summer at Bamber Bridge disrupted his pre-season.
Rudd made the bench for the first game of the season but a recurrence of the injury meant it was November before he was back in the squad.
Neil said: “It was good to be able to get him a game. Declan has been fit for a few weeks how. He is frustrated because he wants to play in the team but we have lost only one game in 11 now – in that time we have six victories.
“We are in good form and have a lot of competition all over the pitch.
“It makes my job difficult selection-wise but that is great in a sense.
“But I know that all the lads want to play.”
Rudd gave a good account of himself at Wycombe, making a couple of saves.
The hosts’ goal from Liam O’Nien took a big deflection off Daryl Horgan and went over him.
Maxwell is set to start at Millwall this weekend.
He kept four clean sheets last month and is one of the nominations for the PFA Championship player of the month.
Both Maxwell and Rudd have worked under three keeper coaches this season, a role which has been rather unstable of late.
Alan Kelly left the club in August after more than four years on the coaching staff.
His replacement was Dean Kiely but he left to join Crystal Palace last week.
PNE’s academy goalkeeper coach Jack Cudworth, who did the job between Kelly leaving and Kiely’s arrival, is now back in post at least until the end of the season.
Cudworth’s first game back with the senior keepers was at Wycombe.