Preston North End’s only 100 per cent appearance maker in 2019/20 unfortunately missed most of pre-season through injury.
But having returned to action in the Carabao Cup game at Derby County and then started against former club Norwich City last weekend, No.1 Declan Rudd is delighted to be back.
Speaking to iFollow PNE to look ahead to the visit of Stoke City to Deepdale, the custodian thinks the energy exerted in his first game back played a part in his mistake at Carrow Road, but it was not something he would let both him.
“It was good [to be back],” he said. “It was tough. I missed the whole of pre-season, trained and then played in the cup and then trained and played again.
“I was probably still recovering from the first game mentally, because it takes a lot out of you and I think that is shown in the mistake, but that is football.
“It annoyed me, but it doesn’t affect me.
“It is great to be back out there; it is good to be playing football and thankfully the lads did the job in front of me for the rest of the game, we got a point and it didn’t affect us too much.
“As a goalkeeper if you make a mistake, it’s a goal and unfortunately, I made a mistake, but that is what happens in football.
“I was frustrated to not quite make it for the first game. I pushed myself hard through the rehab and possibly pushed myself a bit too much, as I had a little lapse half way through, but I am back now, I feel good and I am glad that I am back involved as there is nothing worse than not being involved in a matchday squad.”
Like his manager, elsewhere on iFollow and PNE.Com, the goalkeeper is disappointed that fans will not be returning soon, having had 1,000 Canaries inside the ground last week.
“I have said all along, we are in the entertainment business,” continued Dec. “Playing a game not in front of fans is like a play being performed in front of no audience.
“You get a lot of feedback from the crowd and when the place is buzzing, it gives you that boost.
“We should be used to it now; we have played enough games behind closed doors and it did feel good to have the fans in on Saturday.
“It created that little bit more of an atmosphere and it is a shame that it won’t continue, but the safety of everyone is more important than people watching football in the stadium, but the fact you can go to the pub and watch it and you can’t sit in a stadium is beyond me, but that’s why I’m not making the decisions!”
The Potters will be buoyed by reaching the fourth round of the league cup – Tyrese Campbell’s strike beating Gillingham to set up a tie with Aston Villa at Villa Park next Thursday – and despite having had positive results against them in recent encounters, it counts for nothing come Saturday at 3pm.
“The size of the club of Stoke and their recent history, they have got the pull to bring in the type of players they have recruited and they are doing the right thing in bringing experience in and shoring it up.
“When a team gets relegated from the Premier League, people think they should bounce straight back, but it is not as easy as that.
“They have gone through a stage of rebuilding over a couple of years and they are looking to shore things up now, but we believe in ourselves.
“We know in the last few years we have done well against them, but every season is different – every time you play a team it is different and we have to put all of that to one side and concentrate on the game at hand,” he added.
You can watch Dec and his team-mates in action if you sign up for an iFollow PNE match pass, just £10, with Jonathan Breeze joined by former PNE midfielder and captain Paul McKenna bringing you live coverage on Saturday - click here now to purchase yours.