New Preston North End keeper Connor Ripley is hungry for action
Preston goalkeeper Connor Ripley was not someone who was happy to let the grass grow under his feet during his development years as a footballer.
Ripley signed for PNE from Middlesbrough earlier in the month and has been on the bench for the last two matches against Swansea and Queens Park Rangers.
The 25-year-old had been with Boro since his teens but played only three games for the Teessiders.
However, eight spells on loan gave Ripley the chance to play more than 150 games at first-team level. One of those loans came in Sweden with Ostersunds FK.
He went there in 2014 and played in the Superettan, the Swedish second tier.
Graham Potter was the coach of Ostersunds at the time, Potter now in charge at Swansea.
Ripley said: “Going to play in Sweden showed that I was willing to go anywhere to try and improve, get experience.
“I like to think of myself as a keeper who wants to play, not one who is just happy to be somewhere.
“The Sweden chance came up when I wanted to go out and play in a first team, not in Middlesbrough’s Under-23s. Playing for Ostersunds was a fantastic experience, very different.
“It was ultimate football – no long balls – and being there really improved me.
“We mainly played on 4G pitches which were superb, almost the same as grass.
“There were a few grass pitches but in the main it was 4G because of the weather.
“It’s the only place I have played when we had snow, blue sky, sunshine, rain, a gale and back to snow again in the course of just one game.
“When we played Swansea the other week it was nice to see Graham Potter and Billy Reid, who is his No.2.”
Ripley’s first two loans were at Oxford and Bradford, but of very limited success in terms of games.
It was after his loan with Bradford ended that he went to Sweden.
He then spent the 2015/16 season with Motherwell, that stay at Fir Park seeing him play 40 games.
The following campaign, Ripley joined Oldham and made 54 appearances in all competitions.
Last season saw him on loan at Burton Albion and then Bury. Then in the first half of the current campaign, Ripley was playing further up the M65 at Accrington Stanley.
Said Ripley: “Accrington was a superb club to be at, I really enjoyed it there.
“It was a down-to-earth club and they gave me the chance to play.”
Ripley has watched from the bench for the two games since joining North End.
Declan Rudd has held on to the gloves as Preston have taken four points.
Some game-time came Ripley’s way when PNE played Salford in a practice game last week.