Exclusive Sean Gregan column

Joe Garner scores the first against Crewe
Joe Garner scores the first against Crewe
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Hats off to Joe Garner for his four goals in Preston North End’s 5-1 hammering of Crewe at Deepdale.

He has put himself in the club’s history books as not too many PNE players have scored four in one game before.

You have got to admire the lad for the way he has come back from a serious injury and picked-up where le left.

Some players can take quite a while to get back into their stride after being out for a while, I know I did when I snapped my Achilles tendon at Oldham.

Garner, though, has hit the ground running and to have 20 goals at this stage – 19 of them in the league – having missed a quarter of the season is very impressive.

If you were to look at his goals to games ratio over the last two seasons, I don’t think you will find many better records in Europe apart from the top stars.

Garner is a confident lad and the injury he got just did not seemed to faze him.

It is no coincidence that Preston’s form has shot up since Garner came back.

Certain players can have a real effect in the dressing room and when you’ve got a 20-goal striker coming back in, everyone gets a lift.

What was even better about his four goals in the Crewe game, was the variety of them.

A shot from the edge of the box, a far-post header, one curled into the top corner and the tap-in.

It was pleasing too that the fifth goal came from Jermaine Beckford.

He had quite a bit of time out with illness but has now scored three goals since he returned.

Beckford can have a big part to play between now and the end of the season.

He is proven at this level and I would wager in League One that Beckford is a one in two or one in three striker.

There are some very good choices for Simon Grayson in the strikers’ department.

Garner is the shoo-in to start every game, then there is a choice of Beckford, Kevin Davies and Sylvan Ebanks-Blake.

Those three have Premier League experience and give you different things.

Beckford is a natural scorer with pace, Davies offers the target man option, while I would say Ebanks-Blake has a bit of everything about him.

The victory over Crewe has obviously given Preston’s goal difference a big boost.

A few weeks ago the goal difference was a bit low but four at Oldham, five against Crewe and the ones and twos they’ve been getting in other games, have all added up.

When it is tight up there, a good goal difference could end up being vital.

Having a big win at home will have felt good for both the players and supporters.

First and foremost, the aim is to get three points. But if you can put a few goals away, all the better.

There will be times when teams come to Deepdale and sit tight, hence you are not always going to rattle in the goals.

With North End having moved into the top two in the last couple of weeks, they are now being chased rather than doing the chasing in terms of automatic promotion.

That brings with it a different kind of pressure but it is one they seem to be coping pretty well with.

Hopefully they can now stay in the top two for the rest of the season and have other teams chasing them.

It is an old cliché but it is one game at time for North End. Peterborough are here on Tuesday night which won’t be easy.