Desperation to prove City wrong drives Preston keeper

Declan Rudd of Preston North End gives the thumbs up to the crowd after he is awarded Man of the Mat

Declan Rudd is backing Frankie McAvoy to seize the moment against Norwich on Good Friday. - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Declan Rudd may be missing Preston North End's clash with boyhood club Norwich City on Good Friday, but the goalkeeper has backed interim boss Frankie McAvoy to seize his opportunity as he takes charge for the first time at Deepdale.

City's former academy graduate is currently recovering from a major knee injury that saw his cartilage pop out through his knee and lodged itself behind his kneecap. Rudd's last game for North End arrived back in January.

Rudd saw Alex Neil depart last and he was replaced on a temporary basis by former City coach McAvoy, who has been the Scot's long-serving assistant during his managerial career to date - including at Carrow Road. 

For the former City shot-stopper, seeing Neil depart after developing such a close working relationship with him was hard to take, but he is expecting McAvoy to be fired up to get one over on his former side. 

“It is hard because I was with Alex for three years at Norwich and four years here, so we grew quite a strong relationship.

“Seeing things not going well is hard sitting on the sidelines watching, especially not being able to influence – I am not saying me being involved on the pitch would make any difference, but at least I would know I could do my bit to help out.

“Norwich gave Frankie a massive opportunity in the game by bringing him to the club with Alex. They both took it with both hands and made a really good job of it.

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“I know they both have a lot of respect for the club, but you always want to get one over on your ex-team, me being a boyhood Norwich fan and being there for 12 years, every time I step on the pitch against Norwich, I want to make sure that I win."

Preston North End manager Alex Neil with assistant managers Steve Thompson (right) and Frankie McAvo

Frankie McAvoy has replaced Alex Neil as interim boss at Preston. - Credit: PA

Rudd, who joined City as an eight-year-old, made 35 appearances for the Canaries including a memorable victory at Old Trafford against Manchester United back in 2015.

Reflecting on playing for his boyhood club, the Diss-born goalkeeper admitted there were pressures away from the pitch that impacted his form on it and remains hurt by being told he wasn't good enough to stay at the club. 

"Playing for the team brought a lot of external pressures. All my family members work with Norwich fans and when it didn't go well, it was tough because you knew your dad or mum would go into work on Monday and ask 'what happened?'.

"The time I had there was incredible. Some of the games were really special. When you leave that club, it almost becomes more special, it's like a cup final. When the fixtures come out, I always look for when we're playing Norwich. 

"You always have a point to prove against someone who told you something that you didn't want to hear, that you're not wanted and not good enough for them. Once that is said to you, it stays with you forever. Every time you play against them, you want to prove them wrong. 

"Everyone has their opinions but it's about the belief you have in yourself."

Declan Rudd of Norwich during the Barclays Premier League match at Carrow Road, NorwichPicture by

Rudd made 35 appearances for boyhood club Norwich.

The 30-year-old is close to making his 200th appearance for Preston during a hugely successful period. He spent two periods on loan at Deepdale whilst with City before signing permanently in 2017.

Alex Tettey is the only remaining player from Rudd's time at Carrow Road, and despite readily admitting that his fandom of the club has diminished since his departure, Rudd still looks out for their results and wants the Canaries to thrive. 

"I always look for their results. I always like to see them doing well. My association is with the club, the opportunity they gave me and what they did for me from the age of eight to where I am now," Rudd told Preston's club website. 

"I always want the club to succeed and when a city with a club like Norwich or Preston does well, the whole city benefits. My family still live down there." 

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