Sharpshooter Jermaine Beckford is looking forward to the challenge of helping Preston establish themselves in the Championship – once he has given his battered left foot a well-deserved rest.
Beckford yesterday agreed a two-year contract with PNE which will run from July 1 after the expiry of his current deal at Bolton Wanderers.
The 31-year-old front man netted 18 goals in North End colours after being loaned out by Bolton.
Eight of those were scored while he was nursing a broken big toe, an injury which meant he did not train for the final few weeks of the season.
All three goals of his Wembley hat-trick in the League One play-off final came from that sore left foot, an injury which he will be fully recovered from by the time pre-season training starts in early July.
Beckford told the Evening Post: “I broke my toe in the second half of the Gillingham game in April.
“I played the last seven games of the season carrying the injury. I couldn’t do any training in that time.
“It was just a case of getting on the exercise bike to keep my fitness levels up.
“The toe was very sore and is still healing at the moment.
“For a game I would take some painkillers and just get on with it.
“Everything worked out well in the end – the finish to the season at Wembley was amazing, a time in my career which I will never forget.
“Not many players get to score a hat-trick in a Wembley final, so I’m very proud that it happened to me.
“It is nice to look back on that special day just over a fortnight ago but it won’t be long until pre-season training starts and that will be the time to start looking forward rather than dwelling on what we did.”
The striker’s move on a Bosman – Bolton announced last month that they would not be offering him a new deal – is the first incoming signing at Deepdale this summer.
Preston hope to follow it up by clinching deals for their other loan stars, Sam Johnstone and Paul Gallagher.
They are working on bringing goalkeeper Johnstone back on a season-long loan from Manchester United.
Gallagher is out of contract at Leicester and PNE officials met with his agent yesterday for further talks.
The deal for Beckford is a strong start to their summer recruitment.
He and Joe Garner formed a lethal front pairing over the last three months of the season once they had put injury and illness problems behind them.
It is likely that another striker will be added to the squad to increase Simon Grayson’s options up front.
The chance to continue working with Grayson was a major factor in Beckford’s decision to sign on at Deepdale full-time.
“It is no secret that I work very well with the gaffer,” said Beckford.
“There are a lot of other managers who I have worked with who have also been very good with me.
“It just seems that the gaffer has that little bit more which I respond to – it’s something I can’t quite put my finger on but it works well.”