PNE striker to hit the ground running

Jermaine Beckford is put through his paces in pre-season training
Jermaine Beckford is put through his paces in pre-season training
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Jermaine Beckford hopes that being with Preston North End from the word go this season will lead to an even better campaign for him.

he Wembley hat-trick hero found the net 18 times in a PNE shirt last term after joining on loan from Bolton in November.

Fifteen of those goals came in an 18-game burst from the end of February onwards, culminating in his treble against Swindon in the League One play-off final.

Beckford made his move to Deepdale a permanent one last month, signing a two-year contract after leaving Bolton on a Bosman.

Being able to do pre-season training with North End as opposed to joining part-way through the season will, says the 31-year-old, be a major advantage.

“Last season when I first came it was a bit stop-start for me so it took me a little while to get into the groove,” said Beckford.

“When I started playing week in, week out and training all the time, I felt a lot fitter.

“I find that if I’m at a good level of fitness, I don’t have to worry about it and I can really concentrate on the football.

“When I’m not quite fit, it plays on my mind a bit and can make the football side of things tricky.

“Pre-season has been pretty tough so far and it will be nice to get it out of the way.

“I’m looking forward to starting the friendly matches and then we can start thinking about the season’s opener.”

Beckford has been joined in the PNE strikers’ pool by Will Keane this week. His arrival from Manchester United on loan forms part of a restructure of the squad since promotion was won in May.

Said Beckford: “We are all excited about Will coming here and we’ll be learning about his strengths in training.

“The squad has changed a bit in the summer, the ones who have left are good players, great lads and will be missed.

“But at the same time, at every football club there is a rotation policy which goes on.

“For a team to continue to grow, there have to be some new additions and some casualties.

“I’m sure that the guys who come in will add quality to the squad and hopefully help to get us to where we want to be.”

Beckford and his Preston team-mates will get their first slice of match action against Chorley this afternoon, the annual clash at Victory Park seeing the teams compete for the Jack Kirkland Trophy.

PNE boss Simon Grayson is pleased with how the players have trained since reporting back 10 days ago.

Grayson said: “They came back in really good shape and you expect that these days.

“In years gone by when I was playing, you used pre-season to get fit, work off what you had put on the holidays.

“Nowadays the players get themselves fit in the off-season by doing fitness programmes and that enables them to get straight back into the work we want them to do.

“It is not about slogs around the pitch anymore – we’ve done football work from day one.”