Preston North End have made goalkeeper Connor Ripley their fourth signing of the January transfer window.
The Middlesbrough shot-stopper arrives at Deepdale after impressing on loan in League One with Accrington and fills the gap in Alex Neil’s squad left by Chris Maxwell’s move to Charlton.
He will bring a real presence between the sticks
Ripley is noted for being a real presence in goal wherever he has been. He’s 6’3” and strong but also agile and a goalkeeper who pulls off good saves when required. Imposing and confident he will be challenged with trying to displace Declan Rudd as the No.1 between now and the end of the season. If he does that, given PNE’s problems between in goal over recent months he will have a real chance to make the jersey his own for some time to come. Another who having had experience down the Football League is being backed to make the step up to the Championship at Deepdale as North End’s recruitment pattern continues.
Has had to serve his apprenticeship out on loan
Ripley may arrive as someone who didn’t make a breakthrough at a big club in Middlesbrough, making just three senior appearances, but he has more than 150 games under his belt. He was player of the year when on loan at Oldham in the 2016-17 season, a campaign that included Ripley playing in a League Cup defeat at Deepdale. The previous season he was in the Scottish top flight with Motherwell while 2017-18 was a bit more stop-start, beginning with a handful of games for Burton Albion before a spell at Bury. It is his Accrington form that has caught PNE’s eye, Ripley keeping five clean sheets in 24 appearances as Stanley have made an impressive start to life in League One.
Experience not limited to the Football League
Perhaps the most unlikely of Ripley’s loan spells came at Ostersunds in Sweden back in 2014. He played 14 games in the second division when one Graham Potter was the manager. That means having joined PNE in the run-up to the game, if Alex Neil elects to put Ripley straight in for his debut on Saturday he will come up against his former manager when Swansea visit Deepdale this weekend.
Middlesbrough’s lofty ambitions halted his progress
The England youth international had to bide his time out on loan due to limited opportunities at the Riverside Stadium. The key point in Ripley’s Boro career came in the summer of 2017. After returning as Oldham’s star man, equaling the club record with 18 clean sheets in his season at Boundary Park, he had his eyes on challenging for a first-team spot. But then Boro boss Garry Monk turned to the transfer market and brought in Darren Randolph for £5 million. With his hopes of being No.1 all but ended, Ripley was back out on loan.
Football is in the Ripley genes
The 25-year-old is the son of former Middlesbrough, Blackburn and England winger Stuart. His dad, now a lawyer, was a Premier League winner with Rovers in the 1994-1995 season and was capped twice by his country. Was briefly the record signing at Ewood Park, where son Connor played some of his youth football, before the arrival of a certain Alan Shearer. Ripley Snr also played for Bolton, Southampton, Barnsley and Sheffield Wednesday during a 17-year playing career, retiring in 2002.