Grayson tips PNE star to reach double figures

Joe Garner
Joe Garner
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Simon Grayson is backing Preston North End front man Joe Garner to reach double figures of goals this season after his barren run ended last weekend.

Garner has netted in the last two games and today takes his shooting boots to Wales for PNE’s clash with Cardiff City.

His goals against Sheffield Wednesday and Charlton took him on to five for the season, a big drop on the previous two campaigns.

But Lilywhites boss Simon Grayson thinks the pressure has lifted slightly off Garner for a variety of reason.

Others are chipping in with goals, Paul Gallagher, Alan Browne, Adam Reach and Callum Robinson all on target of late.

North End’s strong form also has them looking up the table rather than down it.

Garner reached the 100-goal mark of his career by scoring in Tuesday night’s 2-1 victory over Charlton – 55 of them have come in PNE colours.

Grayson said: “Joe’s goal the other night was a great header.

“It wasn’t a free header close in, he was actually coming from the goal and managed to head it down into the far bottom corner.

“Hopefully Joe can get to where he wants in terms of the target he set himself at the start of the season.

“For me, there is no reason why he cannot get a few more and get into double figures.

“I have talked often in the last few weeks about how he contributes well to the team in other ways and now it is nice to see him back scoring.

“Is the pressure off him a bit now? I would have thought so.

“Other players are helping him out, while our position in the league will help.

“If you are down there in the table and losing, it does put that extra burden on strikers to come up with goals.

“We have been getting results and Joe knows that others are contributing.”

Garner has often played as a lone striker this season, with support coming from a deeper No.10 – such as Adam Reach – or from out wide.

Grayson points out that few sides play with two out-and-out front men these days, with a greater emphasis on having numbers in midfield.

“You don’t get too many front two partnerships like Toshack-Keegan, Dalglish-Rush and Cole-Yorke to name but a few,” said Grayson.

“When you look at this division, Burnley have Andre Gray and Sam Vokes who play together but there aren’t too many others.

“It is about that balance of getting numbers in midfield.

“A No.10 can help out in midfield and you still have a striker up front.

“More teams are playing with more numbers in midfield to try and get control of games.

“In the past when there were partnerships at the top of the pitch, most teams played 4-4-2 so there wasn’t the need for more numbers in midfield.

“Last season when we had Jermaine Beckford fit, we tended to play a 4-3-3 – a bit of lop-sided one.

“Jermaine wasn’t necessarily right up next to Joe and he would do his defensive work.”