PNE striker has eyes on big prize

Joe Garner with the NWFA League One player of the year trophy
Joe Garner with the NWFA League One player of the year trophy
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Joe Garner has his sights set on a successful promotion campaign with Preston North End to add to the growing list of accolades which have come his way.

The goal ace walked off with the League One player of the year and the region’s goal of the year honours at the North West Football Awards.

At the end of last season he was voted North End’s player of the year by supporters and team-mates alike.

With 12 goals already this term to add to the 24 he fired in 2013/14, Garner is one of the most prolific front men at this level.

Reflecting on the campaign so far, Garner said: “I think I’m doing okay.

“I have scored 12 goals but the main thing is the team is doing well.

“We are third in the league and hopefully we can get into the top two positions.

“Like every professional footballer I have got ambitions to be the best I can be.

“I am happy at a massive club in Preston, I’m really enjoying my football and I will do everything in my ability to get Preston into the Championship.

“Hopefully I can be standing here next season as a Championship player for both myself and the club.”

Garner made two trips to the winners’ podium at the awards ceremony held at Lancashire Cricket Club.

Voting for the League One player of the year had been going on for some months.

The goal of the year was voted for on the night via social media, with his spectacular chest down and volley in the play-off semi-final against Rotherham coming out on 
top.

It beat off stern competition from efforts by Yaya Toure, Luis Suarez, Ross Barkley, Wayne Rooney and Ashley Barnes.

Said Garner: “The goal has definitely got to be up there in terms of being my best, even though I managed a couple of other decent ones.

“It happened so quickly. I saw the ball coming over the top.

“We were 1-0 down at the time and I knew I had to get my shot away.

“It sat up nicely, I hit it early and luckily it flew into the top corner.

“Any award is nice and it is nice to be recognised when you are doing well.

“If I keep working hard then hopefully Preston can get promotion this season.”

All but one of Garner’s 36 goals in a PNE shirt have come since November 2 last year.

He is the second Preston player to win the League One award, John Welsh having done so 12 months ago.

At the awards, North End midfielder Josh Brownhill was shortlisted in the rising star category.

But that award went to Manchester City youngster Rony Lopes.

Preston physio Matt Jackson was also nominated for the Fabrice Muamba award for medical and sports science.

That category was won by former Tranmere manager Les Parry, who is now working for Manchester United.

Meanwhile, Shrewsbury will be PNE’s opponents in the second round of the FA Cup on Saturday, December 6, at Deepdale, after they beat Walsall 1-0 in a replay.