Garner delighted to reach double figures for PNE

Goal threat: Joe Garner has now hit 10 in a North End shirt this season
Goal threat: Joe Garner has now hit 10 in a North End shirt this season
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Joe Garner is planning to push on well into double figures of goals after his two strikes against Port Vale on New Year’s Day took him to 10 for the season.

Nine of those have come in the Preston striker’s last eight appearances, the 25-year-old in red-hot form.

It is almost 12 months since Garner signed for North End – the club he supported as a youngster.

He failed to find the net in the second half of last season, then had only one goal to show for his efforts in the first 11 games of this term.

Since the start of November though, Garner has been unable to stop scoring.

“It took me a little while to settle in,” Garner told the Evening Post.

“I was getting chances when I first signed but just wasn’t scoring them.

“Now the chances are flying in and I’m feeling very confident.

“It is 10 for the season now, which is nice. We are halfway through the season so I will try to get another 10.”

Garner – nicknamed the Jackal – and his shooting boots will be at Portman Road tomorrow as North End tackle Championship side Ipswich in the third round of the FA Cup.

It is a tricky tie against Mick McCarthy’s in-form side but will be a good indicator of what is ahead for PNE, should they achieve this season’s goal and win promotion.

Said Garner: “We will go there full of confidence after three wins over Christmas.

“We are a confident bunch of lads anyway and most of the players think that they can play at Championship level, so we will see how we get on this weekend.

“It is a little bit of a break from the league, although trying to get promotion is our priority this season.”

Garner was delighted with his two goals against Port Vale on Wednesday.

And it is fair to say that the Burslem club are sick of the sight of him.

He also controversially netted twice in the 2-0 victory at Vale Park five weeks ago, having earlier escaped a red card in a case of mistaken identity.

The Vale fans who travelled to Deepdale gave him the bird but he answered in the perfect manner in front of goal.

“Their supporters gave me plenty of stick so it was nice to score the first goal in front of them,” said Garner.

“The main thing is that we got three points, so onwards and upwards.

“Port Vale weren’t a bad side and they are well set up.

“They probably came for a draw, which a lot of teams do here.

“The goal just before half-time was nice, then we got two more quite quickly in the second half.

“Fair play to Vale – they had a right go at us towards the end but we managed to hang on.

“My first goal came after a good piece of team play.

“The ball was moved well across the pitch and out wide to Lee Holmes.

“He crossed it in and I got between their two centre-halves to head it in.

“Paul Gallagher then scored a great second goal and we managed to make it three after that.

“For the third goal, Gally squared the ball to me and shouted ‘time’.

“I had a look up and used all the time I could to fire it into the top corner.

“All their defenders ran back on to the line so I thought that if I hit it high it would go in, unless one of them handled.

“I was happy to see the ball hit the net and at 3-0 we should not have gone close to chucking it away.

“But sometimes that happens in football and the important thing is that we held on to the win.

“Now we have got to be ready to go to Ipswich tomorrow.”

Garner is top of the pecking order of strikers at Deepdale at the moment. Back in the summer, many fans would have had a different view.

Preston boss Simon Grayson said: “People have their favourites and they will have seen big-name signing Kevin Davies as the main player.

“Then you have got fans’ favourite Iain Hume, while Stuart Beavon had done well.

“So from the outside looking in, Joe probably was lower down the pecking order.

“But there was no pecking order from my point of view – it was about who was training well.

“I said when Joe was out of team in the early part of the season that he was on fire in training.

“He just needed a goal to kick-start him and that has been the case.

“Joe has great movement, he is good in the air and is a different type to what we have got. He has taken his opportunity and hopefully that will continue.

“He is a brave boy who wants to get on the ball.”