March 11 2014 Latest news:
Paddy Davitt, Norwich City Writer
Tuesday, February 18, 2014
Norwich City’s former England Under-21 keeper Declan Rudd believes he will return to Carrow Road a far better keeper for his extended loan spell at League One promotion hopefuls Preston.
The 23-year-old is in action again on Tuesday night at MK Dons after recently celebrating his one-year anniversary at Deepdale, split between two loan spells. Rudd has now become a key part of the Lilywhites’ bid to reach the Championship, with Simon Grayson’s side currently in fourth.
The Diss-bred keeper had made 14 starts for Norwich after progressing through the academy ranks before grabbing his chance to impress in the north-west.
“I have a lot to be thankful to Preston for,” he said. “At the time a lot of managers weren’t willing to take the risk with me.
“Thankfully Preston were prepared to take a chance and a year on I’m still here. It has been brilliant and being here has brought me out as a person a lot more. Although I moved out of home at 16 when I joined Norwich, it was only half-an-hour up the road. I’m now four-and-a-half hours from home but my fiancée and myself have settled nicely here. It is nice to be playing every week – it’s not much of a job if there is nothing to work for at the end of the week. As a team we are going really well, having lost only four league games this season and just three in the cups.
“When I first came to Preston, I wasn’t sure how I would cope playing every week. But I have coped, I’ve loved it and I have improved so much as a goalkeeper. To be asked in the summer to come back for this season was an honour.”
Rudd was part of the Preston side who drew 1-1 at the weekend with promotion rivals Leyton Orient in an emotional occasion at Deepdale that marked the passing of legendary North End and England striker Sir Tom Finney.
“It was an honour to play on Saturday to be honest,” he told Preston’s official site. “I feel very lucky and privileged to be able to represent the man himself and it was an emotional day for the people who knew him, all the fans and the people involved with Preston over the years.
“It is a big loss to the community, to football and obviously all the charity work he has done. It was an honour to represent him on the day.
“It sort of gives you an extra incentive to get the three points, unfortunately we weren’t able to on the day, but I think we put in a performance that would have made him proud.”
Rudd expects a tough test against the Dons on Tuesday evening.
“They are a very good footballing side,” he said. “Dropping the two points on Saturday wasn’t ideal, but there is still a long way to go.
“There are 16 games left and I think we need to set the marker down. It is up to us now to finish the job in hand.”