Sam’s ready to play it again at Deepdale

Sam Johnstone punches clear against Birmingham at the weekend
Sam Johnstone punches clear against Birmingham at the weekend

Aston Villa goalkeeper Sam Johnstone will make his first return to Deepdale this evening since being on loan with Preston.

Johnstone had two loan spells at home-town club PNE from Manchester United, the first as North End won promotion from League One in 2015.

He played 25 matches, including the play-off final at Wembley.

The following season, Johnstone returned for a shorter stay after Jordan Pickford’s return to Sunderland.

Johnstone is in his second loan spell with Villa from United.

He spent the second half of last season at Villa Park and has returned for a full term’s stay this campaign.

He faced Preston last season at Villa Park but was not at the club earlier in the campaign when PNE won 2-0 at Deepdale.

Villa are likely to be without striker Jonathan Kodja because of an ankle injury.

Keinan Davis is set to replace him, the 19-year-old having come on as sub for Kodja in Sunday’s 0-0 draw at Birmingham.

Villa boss Steve Bruce envisages a similar test from PNE to the one his side got in the Midlands derby. Bruce said: “It will 
be the same as Sunday. Preston have had a good start and are a good side.

“They’re a bit similar to Blues, up-and-at-you.

“They will be difficult to beat, we know what to expect.”