Preston North End keeper Declan Rudd ready for a mini-season to earn play-off spot
Declan Rudd cannot wait to start the forthcoming ‘mini season’ as Preston attempt to secure themselves a play-off place.
The race for a top-six slot boils down to what happens in the remaining eight games of the regular season.
North End signed off for the international break with three wins on the bounce in the space of a week.
They will resume action at Reading on Saturday outside the play-off positions only on goal difference.
Goalkeeper Rudd, in line with his team-mates, has been in good form since the turn of the year.
He has kept three clean sheets in the last six games as PNE have played their way into the chasing pack.
Rudd told the Post: “We have been doing well but the break came at a good time. We’ve had a little bit of a rest so that we are ready for the mini-season coming up.
“There are eight games to go and we know what we have to do over the next few weeks.
“Concentration is a big thing for a goalkeeper, so it’s been nice to be able to switch off for a few days.
“We are now fully focused on what is ahead of us, with the Reading game a big one.”
PNE’s rise from the foot of the Championship table to where they are now, has been well documented.
Bottom in October and 17th on New Year’s Day, talk of a threat of relegation has turned into play-off chat.
Said Rudd: “When you look back to the start we made and where we were in the table, we have done well to turn things around.
“We’ve had a couple of good runs and our aim is to carry this one on for longer.
“As a group of players, we knew we could get ourselves on a good run.
“The manager said the same thing to us. I remember him talking to us after a game when we were second-bottom of the table.
“He told us not to worry about it, not let the situation get to us.
“The manager told us there was a chance to kick on and to believe in ourselves.
“He got that message across to us and we have improved.
“We aren’t saying that we thought we would be doing as well as this but we believed we could give ourselves a chance of competing.
“When you look back, we did well to put a run together during October, November and December.
“Then came the sticky spell over Christmas but we had the desire to put that behind us and push on again. Other teams might have crumbled in that situation but we didn’t.”
Rudd and his team-mates will be well supported at the Madejski Stadium, with more than 1,600 of Preston’s 2,200 sold – and a couple more days of sales yet.