PNE striker keeps his chin up

Joe Garner appeals for a penalty at Derby after tumbling in the box
Joe Garner appeals for a penalty at Derby after tumbling in the box
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Preston North End striker Joe Garner will not allow his confidence to be dented by a shortage of goals.

The 27-year-old has found the net only three times, those strikes coming in a four-game burst in late November and early December.

Having waited 15 games to break his duck, he is now on an 11-match run without a goal.

Garner hopes it a run which will end in this weekend’s clash with Wolves at Molineux.

If not, he will look to the next game and maintain his high level of self-belief.

“I’m confident in my own ability, I know I can score goals,” said Garner.

“This season I have hit the bar and post, had a few disallowed so I am getting into the positions.

“That is football and the main thing is that the team are doing well and picking up points.

“As a striker, I rightly get judged on how many goals I score and I haven’t scored enough this season.

“I have been satisfied with my all-round performance but I just haven’t got the goals.

“The team’s circumstances have changed this season.

“Last year, we were one of the favourites to come up from League One, we played attacking football, scored a lot more goals and created more chances.

“I knew that going into the Championship, things would be different – we were stepping up to a tougher level, playing against better team.

“I’m confident I can score goals at this level and will continue working hard to prove that.

“It is difficult being up front on your own at times but that is something I’m used to.

“The lads behind me have done well – Daniel Johnson has scored a lot of goals and Paul Gallagher has chipped in with a few.

“As a team we have picked up points and are going well.”

Garner has had to soldier on without partner-in-goals Jermaine Beckford this season.

The pair scored 45 goals between them in the promotion campaign, forming a lethal partnership in the last three months of the season.

Said Garner: “Jermaine has been a big miss for us – it was a massive disappointment that he had to go in for the operation and be out for such a long while.

“He is a top player and everyone saw last season what he’s capable of doing.

“When we are out training, I always have a look over to the other pitch where Jermaine is doing his work.

“He is jogging and moving alright and hopefully it won’t be too long before he is back working with the footballs. Jermaine is a positive person, very bubbly around the place and always in good spirits.”

North End head to Molineux on Saturday with Garner not having the best of experiences the last time he crossed swords with Wolves in September.

He was sent off in the 19th minute for a high challenge on Danny Batth.

Team-mate Bailey Wright later joined him in the dressing room after getting a red card.

Said Garner: “I still think my red card against Wolves was a little bit harsh but that was the referee’s decision at the time and it is gone now.

“We will go to Wolves with plenty of confidence and hopefully we can pick up three points.

“The gaffer will have us set up well to play them and we’ve been through how they play.

“Molineux is a nice ground, a good place to play at.

“We will have a good following down there, the away support has been very good again this season.”

North End currently occupy 14th place in the Championship and are eyeing a push into the top half of the table. A victory over Wolves would lift them above Kenny Jackett’s men and possibly higher, depending on results elsewhere.

Garner’s focus is on pushing higher, rather than looking over his shoulder at the teams below.

“When a team gets promoted, the first aim is to stay in the division,” said Garner. “This is a tough league but we are sat 
nicely and have the talent to go higher.

“Are we over-achieving? I wouldn’t say that because we are a good side and are enjoying what we are doing.

“We are set up to be hard to beat – we work hard for each other and have a good team spirit.

“Whoever we play, we will give them a game.

“You saw the spirit last week when we came back to win against Huddersfield.

“To go 1-0 down with 10 minutes left and end up with three points, was a great achievement.

“It was not our best display by a long chalk but we won. Maybe earlier in the season when we had a sticky spell, we wouldn’t have won it.

“But we have settled into the Championship, we understand what it is about.

“Sometimes when you do not play well, your spirit and determination can get you through instead.”