Sam happy to play it again at PNE

Sam Johnstone applauds after Preston's win over Rotherham
Sam Johnstone applauds after Preston's win over Rotherham
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Preston North End goalkeeper Sam Johnstone admits to a sense of frustration at going from the brink of Manchester United’s first team to being out of the picture at Old Trafford.

For a time last summer, it looked like he would start the season as the Red Devils’ first-choice keeper.

But he got no further than the bench and has spent most of the campaign to date third in the pecking order.

His desire to play saw him rejoin North End on a 28-day loan last week, with his second PNE debut coming on Saturday’s 2-1 win over Rotherham.

Uncertainty over the future of David de Gea at United pushed Johnstone into the limelight in pre-season.

He featured prominently on their American tour and was tipped to start the Premier League opener against Tottenham.

Instead, Sergio Romero was preferred ahead of him, with Johnstone on the bench for the first six games.

Once De Gea signed a new contract after a move to Real Madrid stalled, Johnstone dropped to third choice.

Just once since September was he named among the substitutes, with De Gea and Romero ahead of him.

Johnstone told the Evening Post: “I was so close to starting the season at United.

“I played the most minutes on the pre-season tour and there was all the fuss about David de Gea going on.

“I was just concentrating on myself and trying to show the manager what I was capable of doing. Then at the last minute, Sergio Romero came in and he did well.

“Sergio played ahead of me and that is football.

“It was frustrating but I’m happy to be playing now at Preston.”

Initially, it is a short-term stay back at Deepdale, with the loan running until the end of the month.

That time gives Johnstone the opportunity to get games under his belt and allows for a longer stay to be negotiated.

The 22-year-old says a loan until the end of the season would be desirable.

“I’m still young, I’m at the biggest club in the world and have been there since I was 10,” said Johnstone.

“Possibly leaving there is a difficult thing to think about.

“Part of me wants to stay there to try and play but I have one of the best goalkeepers in the world ahead of me.

“The other half of me wants to play football and that is why I was more than happy to come back to Preston.

“I had a great time here last season, it is my local club and I feel like I’ve never been away.

“When it looked like Jordan Pickford was going back to Sunderland, I was pushing to come here.

“The manager and 
keeper coach wanted me back and it happened towards the end of last week.

“Initially, the loan is just for a month and hopefully we can win all the games in that time.

“I’m hoping it gets extended, I want to be here until the end of the season to play football.”

Johnstone played 25 games for North End in last season’s loan spell, finishing off in style at Wembley.