Preston North End goalkeeper Declan Rudd is looking forward to the rest the final international break of the calendar year provides, but at the same time can’t wait to be back playing again.
The No.1 is the only player in the squad to have completed every league game so far this season and admits the mental fatigue, as much as anything, is something he needs a break from, but he is also counting down the days until the Derby County match next weekend.
“It is a completely different tiredness for a goalkeeper,” he told PNE.Com. “Physically, you don’t feel as tired, but it is a mental game. You have to put so much time into making sure that you are on the ball for 95 minutes in every game and you even for training, you have to train like you play, because it is such a different position to outfielders, that everything has to be done to match level.
“It is mentally very tiring, especially when you are doing well, because you want to make sure you are on it and you are there to help the team out when it comes your way.
“So, a few days will be nice, but I have to admit that I am looking forward to playing some more games, because it is a joy to play in a successful team.
“We have seen by the performances lately that we have put everything into every game. The lads have felt that and rest is just as important as hard work. You need your body to mend if you have any slight niggles or a bit of fatigue.
“The most important thing is feeling fresh. There is a fine line between doing too little and doing too much and that’s why we have the professionals here in charge of that, like Tom Little, who will oversee it all and his decision is for the best of the player.
“If he feels a player is doing too much, he will sit them out for a session and that is one thing that has come into play this season – seeing how we can recover better and be ready for the next game.”
The Lilywhites go into the break sat in the top two of the EFL Championship and the Diss-born man feels that confidence is in great shape ahead of the busy period of games coming up from Derby onwards.
“We couldn’t really be in a much better position than we are now. The lads are not getting carried away, but you can tell there is a lot of confidence in the building, which is really important to have in this game,” he continued. “There is a fine line between over-confidence and being confident and I feel that the line is at the right level and the lads are really enjoying being around here at the moment.
“Every player plays better with confidence. If you try and take that away from players that can affect how we do on the pitch, so we try to keep the feeling good, keep training available, keep having a laugh and a joke around the training ground and make sure we don’t get too caught up in the moment. Just take it as it is and enjoy where we are.
“It is only November and we have 30 games left in the league, so there is a lot of football to be played, but we have done well to put ourselves in this position and given ourselves a platform to now build off going into the busiest part of the season.
“Momentum, as I have always said, is the most important thing at a football club and if we can keep that going over Christmas and into the New Year, we will be right where we want to be.”
One thing that has pleased the 28-year-old custodian is the team’s mentality in games, approaching them all with the aim of winning: “The unbeaten run talk is sometimes a bit false, because you could be unbeaten for ten games and draw nine of them and not really get anywhere, so the one good thing with us, as a team, is that the manager goes out there to win games.
“Sometimes you might end up losing a game, because you are drawing and you go out chasing the win, but in the long run we look at it that we will win more of those games than we will lose and to have that attitude on a Saturday or a Tuesday is huge is this league, because if you can have that attitude every single time, it really helps.
“What we have learnt, is that it is not always about playing the prettiest football – that doesn’t necessarily win you a game.
“We have learnt that sometimes you have to make it ugly and really grind out a performance just to get the points. Prior to this season we were perhaps more worried about our performance, than trying to win the game, but this year we have thought ‘what is the best way of beating the opposition’ and if that is going out there and bullying them off the pitch, that’s what we have to do and if it is going out there and playing them off the park, we have the ability to do that as well.
“It is all about looking at the opposition and playing our strengths.
“We know how the gaffer wants us to play. We have plan A, B and C and we know if we change it on the pitch, where we need to go, how we going to play and that is a couple of years in the making, because it doesn’t just happen.
“You need a certain structure and you have to work on it week in, week out and it is coming into play now and we have to make sure we don’t get carried away with the situation, take each game as it comes and look to get as many points out of them as we can.”
Dec and the goalkeeping department are now a couple of months into working with Jonathan Gould. And the former Norwich City man is enjoying being able to tap into the former North End, Celtic and Scotland ’keeper’s knowledge base.
“Experience is one thing that as a goalkeeper you can’t buy and, for myself, to be able to tap into Gouldy’s knowledge – not even on the pitch, sometimes off it as well – is very important.
“We have good chats and have got to know each other well in the last couple of months.
“Working with him is a joy; he works you really hard – which is what we like – but he is another one that if he thinks you need a day’s rest, he will give it to you and get you ready to go the next way and I am loving working with him,” he added.