PNE goalkeeping coach Alan Kelly Jnr believes the competition between Declan Rudd and Thorsten Stuckmann will be something to behold next season.
The former Preston, Blackburn Rovers and Sheffield United shot-stopper was in high spirits after the Club ensured both ‘keepers would ply their trade at Deepdale in the 2013/14 campaign.
And Kelly revealed how he and one of the PNE custodians had experienced a recent, yet unexpected, encounter.
“In fact I’ve just bumped into ’Stucky’ at the supermarket now, fresh from signing his contract,” he laughed.
“That [his contract] was good news, he’s a quality performer and with Declan re-signing on a season long loan it’s going to be a really good competition.”
“They’re both excellent trainers and they work ever so hard and they’re always wanting to get better, so for a coach like myself, that’s fantastic.”
“I think in terms of going into a season you need two quality ‘keepers and we undoubtedly have that.”
Academy graduate Steven James will also link up with the duo after signing his first professional contract with the Club this summer, something Kelly is looking forward to having coached the 18-year-old in the youth team ranks.
“I worked with Steven when I looked after the academy ‘keepers for around two-and-a-half years, so I’ve seen him from age 13 onwards,” he added.
“He’s got a lot of potential and he’s going into his first year as a pro looking to work with the two other lads, which will only raise his standard.”
“We’re really looking forward to improving him and getting him up to a really good standard and the rest is down to a bit of luck, ability and hard work.”
Meanwhile, the Capital One Cup winner admitted he had been keeping tabs on PNE.Com’s ‘Fans’ All-time XI’ competition, and was delighted to find that his father, Alan Kelly Snr, had been voted as the Lilywhites’ greatest ever between the posts.
Although, the 45-year-old conceded his namesake’s place in the side was never really in doubt.
“I think there’d have been a riot if it’d have been thrown into doubt,” he joked.
“It’s one of those things that really will stand the test of time, the one thing for me is going out to Deepdale and seeing his picture and having your old man metaphorically looking over your shoulder is always a timely boost to keep me on my toes.
“I think he was rightly voted the Club’s best all-time ‘keeper and I don’t think there will be many that will get close to him.”