Preston North End goalkeeper Steve Simonsen admitted to the Club’s official website he was surprised when he was told by manager Graham Westley he would be starting against Hartlepool United.
The former Premier League shot stopper’s league debut couldn’t have gone any better, a clean sheet alongside five North End goals in a convincing win over the north east outfit.
However, Simonsen is taking nothing for granted and knows the competition in the goalkeeping department is strong with close friend Thorsten Stuckmann also fighting for the gloves.
“I was delighted to make my first league start, I was a little bit surprised I got the call to play but I will take the opportunity with both hands, it was a fantastic game to play in and a great result,” said North End’s number 23.
“The main reason the manager brought me into the Club was to provide good competition in the goalkeeping department and as far as I am concerned he has certainly got that now.
“Me and Stucki [Thorsten Stuckmann] have got on really well since we have started working together and we are there to push each other and the one who pushes the hardest will be playing on the Saturday.
“The competition can only benefit the team on a whole and hopefully help Preston record similar results to Tuesday night.
“The goalkeepers have to get along, we work closely with each other everyday and we will help each other out in whatever way we can.
“We have a close working relationship as well with the goalkeeping coach so in terms of that, that is great and it is obviously very good that we get along, respect each other’s games and careers.”
North End boss Westley made five changes for the game against Neale Cooper’s side, and the strength in depth of the squad shone through, with Will Hayhurst and Joel Byrom joining Simonsen in making their first starts of the season.
Praising the team’s work ethic, Simonsen concluded by saying North End have firmly put Tuesday night’s win behind them and focused on the job at hand, Walsall on Saturday.
Simonsen said: “In terms of competition, we want competition all over the field and not just in the goalkeeping department.
“The lads who came in for Tuesday night’s game showed they were ready and were capable of putting into the side what the manager required. Now the key is to follow that up.
“The clean sheet is important, the manager has made it clear that he wants more clean sheets and I was delighted to deliver that on Tuesday night.
“Credit must go to the rest of the lads in front of me as well, the result was brilliant and I couldn’t ask for more.
“The back four was immense; I don’t want to single anybody out in particular but not just the four in front but the midfield and the front two do enough as well to help the lads out.
“I have no doubt they will come down in force, it is not the worst trip to do on a Saturday afternoon so it will be good one for them and they will be looking forward to the match.
“It is a tricky place to go, small tight ground and the fans back them, hopefully the fans we take down will be able to outnumber them and put on a good performance.”