After missing the Sunderland game due to the birth of his baby boy, Declan Rudd is hoping to return to action as the focus turns to the final eight games of the season.
Rudd, who has been between the sticks for North End since January, was replaced by Chris Maxwell for the side’s win over Sunderland at the Stadium of Light, as he was attending the birth of his second child but he will be hoping to return to the starting Xl for Friday's trip to Sheffield Wednesday as the battle for the No.1 spot continues.
Speaking to iFollowPNE, Rudd said: “It’s obviously going to be a change at home but it’s great, everyone is healthy so that’s the main thing. It’s definitely kept me on my toes in the international break, it’s been enjoyable but the good thing is now I can concentrate on the football coming up and get back out there and training and get back to work.
“The plan was to obviously get it all done Friday but due to circumstances it didn’t happen and he ended up being born at 3.40pm on the Saturday afternoon. My wife wasn’t happy, she was in labour and I was checking the Sky Sports App to see what was going on!
“It was a good day all round, three points and we gained points on the top six as well so we’re closer to that. It was another good performance and I’ve got a little boy so good day all round.”
If PNE win both of their matches this Easter and other fixtures go their way they have a chance to move into those top six places and Rudd knows just how important a couple of wins would be.
“Every game is huge now, we’ve got to take every game as a cup final. We’ve got to go out there and try to win, the good thing is we’re chasing, we’re not being chased. I think that’s quite an important thing because there’s going to be a lot of teams above us looking over their shoulders seeing us coming behind them with a lot of pace.
“We’ve picked up good results and bounced back after the loss against Fulham but every game is huge now. We’ve got to try to win every game, go out there and do what we can.
“I know for a fact our early kick off on Sky on the Monday, there will be a lot of teams sitting in their dressing room before their game watching us. If we can go out there and put a statement down and get a win there will be a lot of teams going into their games feeling nervous that we’re doing well.
The goalkeeper has worked under Alex Neil in the past during their time at Norwich and he is confident that manager can achieve similar success and get North End into the Play-Offs.
“They don’t call it the business end of the season for no reason and there’s a lot at stake this time of the year, to get into the Play-Offs and to get promoted is huge. We did it at Norwich with the gaffer, we were the chasing pack and we pushed up, we nearly got automatic and we kept the momentum going and got into the Play-Offs and won in the Play-Offs so this manager’s done it before, he knows what to do and I’m sure he’s planning on doing the same now.
“It’s one thing with the gaffer, you go into the game and you know everything about the opposition you know exactly what you need to do on the pitch and you know what your mate next to you is doing as well.
“I think that’s key to how we’ve done this season because we all know what each others doing. We try to find out what they’re doing to stop that as best we can, so the manager goes through everything and if he can spot a weakness in the opposition we’ll work on that and try to exploit it.
"I think at this time of the season you don’t look at the name of the team on the teamsheet that you’re playing against, you look at the opposition as their strengths and weaknesses." The 27-year-old continued.
"You don’t look at the name on the badge because sometimes that can put yourself under more pressure because you think you’re playing a big team or it could work the other way you think you’re playing an easier team and it can come back to bite you but it is a very important part.
"They don’t call it the business end of the season for no reason and there is a lot at stake this time of the year, to get into the Play-Offs and to get promoted is huge.
You can watch the full interview with Declan Rudd by clicking on the video above.