Declan Rudd targets the Premier League again with Alex Neil
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Declan Rudd started the season in limbo and could end it in the Premier League.
The boyhood Norwich City fan returned to Preston, after his Carrow Road release, only to be reunited with the man who offloaded him, Alex Neil, when the Scot replaced Simon Grayson.
Rudd, however, had been an ever-present since January until missing last weekend's 2-0 Championship win at Sunderland for the birth of his second child.
North End went into the international break two points outside the play-offs, and Rudd is not ruling out a repeat of City's Wembley promotion triumph in 2015.
'I think as a squad we have put ourselves in a great position,' he said.
'The way we've performed this year will have shocked everybody, being in with a chance of the play-offs.
'It was a bit of a weird situation, I turned up for my first day just as the (previous) manager walked out the door.
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'Alex coming in has lifted the club, his new style of play has given the club a new dimension, although Simon did a great job I think the difference in both managers' style lifted everybody.
'I'm really enjoying playing again in a team which has been performing so well – that has made my job a lot easier. I don't think you could have written the script for my first six months back here.'
Rudd could face his old club for the first time next month, when Daniel Farke takes his City squad to Deepdale.
'Obviously being from this area, Norwich has always been my club, but Preston has a very big place in my heart,' said the 27-year-old.
'They put trust in me five years ago to take me on loan and that time was very special to me.
'It will just be another game. As a footballer you put emotions one side and just concentrate on beating the opponent.'
The Diss-bred keeper is forging even closer links to home with the launch of a new project to help nurture Norfolk talent alongside Uefa-qualified coach Loui Blake.
'From my point of view the Norwich academy served me unbelievably well and I basically owe everything to them,' said Rudd.
'For us, those with potential who maybe aren't quite good enough or might have been released, we would like to work with them.'