Neil hopes former City keeper is entering his ‘prime’ after signing new deal at Preston

Former Norwich City goalkeeper Declan Rudd has signed a new contract with Preston Picture: Paul Ches

Former Norwich City goalkeeper Declan Rudd has signed a new contract with Preston Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Contract uncertainty may be imminent throughout football during the coronavirus lockdown but former Norwich City goalkeeper Declan Rudd has committed his long-term future to Preston North End.

The Norfolk-born keeper’s contract was due to expire at the end of June but he has extended terms until 2023, with manager Alex Neil hopeful that the 29-year-old is entering his ‘prime’.

Former City boss Neil said: “Concentration levels also come with maturity and Dec now has a few hundred games under his belt and, like most goalkeepers, they get better and better with age and that is certainly the case with him.

“I would see Declan’s next few years as his prime and if he can continue the form he has been in and continue to improve, then that will bode well for him and for us.”

Rudd, originally from Diss, made 35 appearances for City between 2009 and 2016 after emerging from the academy. Successful loan stints with Preston and Charlton in League One led to a switch to Preston for a reported £500,000 in the summer of 2017 and he has now made a total of 160 appearances for North End.

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Preston sit sixth in the Championship table with nine games remaining during football’s suspension with Rudd an ever-present, leading to transfer links to West Ham in January as his deal entered its final six months.

“It’s been something that we’ve talking about for quite a while now,” Rudd explained, talking to his club’s official website. “It was just the fact that my wife and kids are moving back down to Norfolk and I think that was the only thing that was really slowing it down. We’ve both decided that I’m happy at Preston and I think it’s the perfect thing to do to extend my time here.

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“As a goalkeeper you peak a bit later, I’m 29 now and in football terms, as a goalkeeper you are just starting to develop in to a mature goalkeeper. I think I’ve played nearly over 250 games now at a variety of levels, I’ve made the mistakes, had the good games and I just feel like it’s more natural to me now and I don’t have to think about it as much and I think that’s important.

“I think this has been a good season for me, hopefully the next three years I can keep going.”

- We spoke to Rudd in January following City’s win at Deepdale in the FA Cup third round, when he reflected on his time with his hometown club and his Premier League experience under Neil.

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