Preston North End goalkeeper Declan Rudd says extra attention must be seen as a positive

Preston goalkeeper Declan Rudd
Preston goalkeeper Declan Rudd

Declan Rudd says any extra attention Preston North End start to receive with being at the top end of the Championship can only be regarded as positive.

The Lilywhites resume action at Derby County on Saturday in second place in the table, having enjoyed a strong first 16 games of the campaign.

Declan Rudd has a chat with a young Preston fan at Deepdale

Declan Rudd has a chat with a young Preston fan at Deepdale

Their trip to Pride Park is one of 10 league games they will play between now and January 1.

In recent weeks, the plaudits have started to come their way in the shape of attention from the national media.

After largely being ignored previously – or flying under the radar – it makes a nice change for goalkeeper Rudd.

“We have been in and around it in other seasons but no one really spoke about us,” Rudd said.

Declan Rudd with PNE goalkeeper coach Jonathan Gould

Declan Rudd with PNE goalkeeper coach Jonathan Gould

“You could drive into work listening to the radio and it would all be about other teams.

“Now there is a bit more attention on us and it brings a bit more pressure, which can help us.

“I think pressure can get you on your game, make sure you reach the standards you have set.

“There are more people keeping an eye on us now, we’ve got a few more games on the television than we usually have.

Declan Rudd shares a hug with Preston team-mate Darnell Fisher after the game against Leeds in October

Declan Rudd shares a hug with Preston team-mate Darnell Fisher after the game against Leeds in October

“It makes it a bigger occasion which hopefully brings out the best in our players.

“The bigger the occasion means that if you do win it feels great.

“There is a hunger here to do well – we go out to try and win every game.”

North End will spend plenty of time on their travels in the coming weeks.

The Derby game is followed by Wednesday night’s visit to Hull City.

Following their taste of Monday night football against West Bromwich Albion at Deepdale on December 2, Alex Neil’s men head to London to take on QPR.

Then there are trips to Cardiff and Leeds before December is out.

Preston have been far stronger at home than they have away – certainly in terms of results.

The Championship record at Deepdale is: won seven, drawn two, lost none.

Away from home, it is won two, drawn two and lost three.

Two of the defeats came in the opening fortnight of the season, so things have improved on the road.

Giving that away form a little boost will be the challenge in the weeks ahead.

Rudd said: “We can change our approach if we need to, we have got the players to do that.

“If we need to go away and have a battle, we’ve got lads to come in.

“And if we need to change it to keep the ball more, we can do that.

“The manager is in his third year here and he has got a squad together which pretty much contains players who have come in under him.

“That does make a big difference, everyone knows what he wants from them.

“At Charlton when we won earlier in the month we might only have scored once but we were quite comfortable.

“We played a lot in their half which is something we always try to do, there haven’t been many occasions when we have been stuck in our box and unable to get out.

“The higher up the pitch you defend, the closer to their box you are to create chances when you nick the ball back.

“That is something we have been working on with the gaffer since he came here and you are seeing the results a lot more.

“We have got a lot of away games coming up and they will all be tough.

“It is a crucial period for us to show what we are made of as a team, that we can go away and do what we have been doing at home. We are confident that we can crack on.”

Rudd makes it clear that there is no feeling in the Preston dressing room that anything has been achieved yet.

Their current position is a healthy one but it is very much a feet-on-the-ground job with 16 games played and another 30

to go.

“We’ve made a positive start, improved on what we did to start with last season and given ourselves a building block to push on from,” said Rudd.

“We still have 30 games to go and if we don’t do it for the rest of the season, what we’ve done so far would be pointless.

“We enjoy being in the position we are but we aren’t getting carried away. You have to put league positions to the back of your mind and concentrate on the present.

“As a team and a squad we have been more robust this season, we know when we might have to play ugly.

“I think we are better at turning negatives into positives. There are going to be negatives along the way but it is about how you deal with them.

“You can’t dwell on the negatives – learn from them, yes, but don’t dwell and worry about them.

“We are going well at the moment and the aim is to drive on and keep the form going.”