Sunderland keeper Jordan Pickford has joined Championship new boys Preston on a season-long loan.
Pickford has been training with Sunderland’s first-team squad throughout pre-season after the highly-rated 21-year-old spent last season with Bradford City.
Sunderland have been contemplating whether to promote Pickford to back-up stopper behind first-choice Costel Pantilimon and offload Vito Mannone, or send the England Under-20 international back out on loan to broaden his competitive experience.
Preston have offered the chance for Washington-born Pickford to play regularly in the Championship, and that prospect has proved to be too good for Sunderland to turn down.
“I got the phone call from my agent last night and asked if I fancied it and obviously I said yes,” said Pickford, who has previously spent time on loan with Burton, Darlington and Alfreton.
“It’s a great chance for me to play in the Championship, I’ve done the other leagues and this is the next step up for me which is great.”
Pickford featured in two of Sunderland’s first three pre-season friendlies and travelled with the rest of the first-team squad across the Atlantic for their pre-season tour in North America.
Sunderland sporting director Lee Congerton: “Jordan is a top, home-grown prospect, who has been part of our academy since he was very young.
“Playing regular first-team football is key at this stage of his football development and is another step towards helping him progress so that ultimately he is challenging to be our number one keeper.”