CONNOR Ripley has hailed 'special' Accrington Stanley for playing a role in the goalkeeper's move to Preston North End.

The stopper completed a permanent move from Middlesbrough to Deepdale earlier this week, cutting short his season-long loan at the Wham Stadium.

Ripley, 25, signed a three and a half year deal for an undisclosed fee and could make his debut for the Championship club in Saturday's home game with Swansea City.

He made 24 appearances for the Reds in the first half of the season and made a big impression at the club

“I just want to thank everyone involved at Accrington Stanley," he said.

"From the minute I walked through the door, everyone has made me feel welcome.

“The management and the staff have been class with me and I have thoroughly enjoyed playing with all the players here.

“Accrington is a special, unique club and I have loved playing with the lads.

“It’s been a great experience, the lads have been brilliant and being at Accrington has helped me get this move to Preston, which I appreciate.

“It’s a move I couldn’t turn down, fighting for the No.1 spot at a Championship club, but Accrington will always be a special club to me and I wish them all the best for the rest of the season.”