Rudd returns from injury in time for Preston’s trip to Norwich

Declan Rudd saved a penalty the last time Preston faced Norwich, with North End winning 3-1 at Deepdale during the 2018-19 Championship season 
Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images

Declan Rudd saved a penalty the last time Preston faced Norwich, with North End winning 3-1 at Deepdale during the 2018-19 Championship season Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images

JASON DAWSON ©Jason Dawson

Declan Rudd has returned from injury just in time to potentially face former club Norwich City, after helping Preston to a League Cup win at Derby.

North End won 2-1 away to Championship rivals Derby on Tuesday, with goalkeeper Rudd returning having missed the majority of pre-season with a thigh problem.

Connor Ripley had deputised during a 4-0 win over League Two side Mansfield in the League Cup first round and a 1-0 home loss to Swansea in the Championship on Saturday.

Ripley endured a shaky afternoon as Norwich won 4-2 at Preston in the FA Cup third round back in January, including a poor kick which was capitalised on by Adam Idah to make it 2-0 with a fine strike from long range - as the youngster went on to became City’s youngest ever hat-trick scorer.

Diss-born Rudd looks on course to reclaim his league role for the trip to Carrow Road though, having been ever-present for former Canaries boss Alex Neil as North End finished ninth and four points short of the play-offs last season.

Preston keeper Declan Rudd and Norwich defender Max Aarons clashed as North End beat Norwich 3-1 in February 2019 Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus ImagesPreston keeper Declan Rudd and Norwich defender Max Aarons clashed as North End beat Norwich 3-1 in February 2019 Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images

The 29-year-old also signed a new three-year contract in April, after being linked with West Ham as he moved into the final six months of his previous deal, and has retained the number one squad number for this campaign.

Prior to the game Neil had complained about too many “negative vibes” around the squad, with Bournemouth reportedly having a £3million bid for defender Ben Davies rejected and midfielder Daniel Johnson strongly linked with Rangers.

The Scot had given some rather short answers to the speculation but Johnson came on for the final 15 minutes and scored a penalty to grab the win in injury-time, after a superb strike from Tom Barkhuizen had equalised, with Davies an unused substitute.

Neil, speaking to his club’s website, said of the win: “The disappointment is they have one attack and score, one transition, we probably could have stopped it further up the pitch, and then it ends up in the net.

“I thought from that point our application, our mentality and strength of character shone through in terms of how we approached it after that because it’s easy then to feel sorry for yourself and give up a little bit. I thought we rallied, we went in search for it.

“All in all I thought the lads thoroughly deserved the win and it’s nice to get our first win under our belt.”

Rudd has returned to Carrow Road twice since being sold in 2017 for a reported £500,000, playing all of a 0-0 draw during 2017-18 and losing 2-0 the following season, but saving a Marco Stiepermann penalty as Preston won the return fixture 3-1 to disrupt City’s charge to the Championship title.

He made 35 senior appearances in total, from playing during the League One title success of 2009-10 to playing in the Premier League during 2015-16, but also had loan spells at Preston and Charlton.

- We spoke to Rudd after City’s game at Deepdale in January, click here to read the Norfolk-born academy product’s recollections about his time with the Canaries

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