Goalkeeper decisions for Preston North End boss Alex Neil during pre-season
There were five and now there are four but Preston North End’s goalkeeping department is still looking top-heavy in terms of numbers.
Chris Maxwell’s loan move to Hibernian for the season lightened the load slightly this week.
That leaves Declan Rudd, Connor Ripley, Mat Hudson and Michael Crowe as the senior keepers on the books.
All four have been going through their paces in the last few days at Springfields in the early part of pre-season training.
North End boss Alex Neil has never quite settled on a No.1 keeper in his two years at Deepdale.
He inherited Maxwell and Rudd in 2017, with Maxwell getting the nod for more than half of the 2017/18 season.
For part of that time, Rudd was sidelined by an injury he got in the opening friendly.
Rudd got to the front of the queue from late January 2018 through to September.
It was back to Maxwell for a spell last autumn, his time in the team ended by a red card last November.
Rudd was back in after that and stayed in until the final two games of last season when Ripley got the nod for his first games since January's arrival from Middlesbrough.
Crowe’s one game in a Preston shirt was in the FA Cup exit to Doncaster Rovers in January, a shaky show to say the least.
Hudson’s only appearance for the Lilywhites remains the December 2015 visit to Leeds when he came on as sub after Jordan Pickford was sent off.
He turns 21 at the end of July and needs games to push him on, something a loan move to Bury last season didn’t provide.
In the last few weeks there was talk of another keeper being on North End’s radar in the shape of Manchester City’s Arijanet Muric.
The subject was raised of a loan move to Deepdale, a path taken by Lukas Nmecha and Brandon Barker last season – City impressed with PNE’s handling of the loans.
However, it looks like the Kosovo international is off to Nottingham Forest on loan.
Whether the change of manager at Forest alters that, remains to be seen – the deal was reportedly done before Martin O’Neill left last week but has yet to be announced.
If Muric was in the offing, will North End look at another option in the loan market or stick with what they have got?