Ex-PNE keeper Sam plays it again in a Wembley final

Preston-born keeper Sam Johnstone will be hoping to taste play-off final glory for a second time when he plays at Wembley on Saturday.

Thursday, 24th May 2018, 3:00 pm
Sam Johnstone (left) with Alan Kelly, Jamie Jones, Thorsten Stuckmann and Steve James at Wembley after PNE's play-off final win in 2015

Johnstone kept goal for North End when they won the League One play-off final against Swindon in 2015.

Three years on, he will be back under the Wembley arch in Aston Villa colours when they face Fulham in the Championship final.

Johnstone,25, has been on loan with Villa for the past season-and-a-half.

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He is still a Manchester United player but it seems likely that a permanent move awaits this summer.

That could be to Villa should they beat Fulham. If not, there are Premier League clubs interested.

Johnstone said: “To win a final was great and we kept a clean sheet too, which was very rewarding too.

“The whole day was wonderful for my home town and with my family there.”

PNE took Johnstone on loan from United in January 2015, and he played 25 games as they booked their return to the Championship.

Attempts to bring him back to Deepdale that summer failed but he did return for a brief spell in January 2016 after Jordan Pickford had been 
recalled by Sunderland.

He joined Villa early in 2017 and returned there last summer to spend the full campaign on loan.

It should be an intriguing final, Fulham and Villa 
having finished third and fourth in the table.

This is the Cottagers’ first visit to Wembley since the 1975 FA Cup final.

They narrowly missed out on automatic promotion but were arguably one of the best teams to watch.

Villa manager Steve Bruce will be aiming for his fifth promotion from this level, having done so twice each with Birmingham and Hull.