PNE’s Garner in shoot-out with Gray

Burnley striker Andre Gray is the Championship's leading scorer

Burnley striker Andre Gray is the Championship's leading scorer

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Burnley manager Sean Dyche has cast a wary eye on Joe Garner’s recent return to goalscoring form.

The North End striker looks to have rediscovered his touch in front of goal after notching in the past two games.

Up until then Garner – who hails from Whalley – had gone 15 games without a goal in the Championship.

He will be looking to keep his scoring run going when North End visit Turf Moor to face the Clarets on Saturday.

Dyche is all too aware of Garner’s ability – he paid £200,000 for his services as Watford manager in 2011.

The 27-year-old never really settled at Vicarage Road– managing just one goal in 16 league starts for the Hornets.

He was loaned out to Carlisle before Graham Westley brought him to Deepdale in January 2013.

Since then, Garner – who is a boyhood North End fan – has turned himself into a modern-day PNE legend.

His goals over the past couple of seasons have helped catapult the club back to the Championship and he is eager to prove his worth at this level.

Dyche admitted he did not take too much notice of Garner’s goal drought earlier in the season.

““Scoring goals is about the team, not just the strikers, Dyche said.

“The hardest balance is being open enough to score, and tight enough to stop them scoring.

“I like Joe as a person and a player, he worked ever so hard for us at Watford.

“He didn’t play every week, and I think he was always keen to get back to the North West, but he was always involved with the team and I look forward to seeing him, though hopefully not too much during the game.”

While Garner is very much the focal point of North End, Burnley have their own talisman in Andre Gray.

He will be looking for his 12th goal of the season on Saturday in what is a huge derby encounter.

“They are all big games, and we know what we consider the big derby to be, but this is certainly a derby,” Dyche said.

“Preston haven’t conceded many goals this season, and probably haven’t scored as many as they would have liked.

“But they have settled their season down after an awkward start, particularly after getting promotion, and they have an experienced manager.

“It will be a big challenge, but 
one we will be ready for.

“Our mentality is as solid as a rock, and we have a lot of belief in what we do.”

Gray’s usual strike partner Sam Vokes – who formed a formidable pairing with Danny Ings when the Clarets were promoted to the Premier League in 2014 – is expected to be fit to take his place in the squad after missing the previous two games.

Midfielder Dean Marney is expected to be on the bench after returning last weekend from a serious knee injury.