Luke’s a likely lad for PNE

Good impression: Centre-half Luke Foster has been playing on a non-contract basis for PNE
Good impression: Centre-half Luke Foster has been playing on a non-contract basis for PNE
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Preston North End’s early movement in the January transfer window is set to see an extended Deepdale stay for Luke Foster and a loan swoop for striker Joe Garner.

Foster, 27, has been playing for free at North End on a non-contract basis for the past couple of weeks.

The centre-half has impressed sufficiently in that spell to put himself in line for a deal.

He started training with the PNE squad a couple of months ago, having been without a club since the summer after leaving Rotherham.

Foster had suffered a cruciate ligament injury while with the Millers.

Initially he came to North End to work on his fitness, linking up again with Graham Westley ,who managed him at Stevenage.

As a free agent, Foster was able to sign on a non-contract basis last month.

He made his debut in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy win at Bury and started the Boxing Day clash against the same opposition.

In last Saturday’s defeat to Doncaster, Foster was a 
first-half replacement for Paul Huntington.

At Hartlepool on Tuesday he was handed a start, putting in a commanding display at the heart of the back four.

Westley said: “I thought all three centre-backs who played at Hartlepool put their bodies on the line and defended strongly.

“We lost Bailey Wright to a head injury in the first half, replacing him with Chris Robertson.

“Luke, Robbo and Bailey all did well up against Steve Howard, who – even at his age – isn’t an easy player to play against.”

Watford front man Garner is being lined up to come on loan until the end of the season.

He scored eight goals for Carlisle during a loan spell which ended just before Christmas.

One of those goals came from the penalty spot against North End in November’s 1-1.

Garner started his career with home-town club Blackburn before joining Carlisle in 2007.

A £1.4m move took him to Nottingham Forest the following year.

The 24-year-old joined Watford from Forest in August 2011 after loan spells at Huddersfield and Scunthorpe.

With first-team chances limited at Vicarage Road, he moved to Carlisle on loan in September, and the Cumbrians remain keen on re-signing him.

Securing a new striker was always going to be high priority for North End this month.

The goals have dried up recently, with just four scored in the last nine league games.

Akpo Sodje’s exit last month, after failing to agree a new contract, also created a vacancy in the forward line.

There is no word yet on the future of Anthony Elding, whose loan spell from Grimsby ended after the New Year’s Day win over Hartlepool.

He was an unused substitute at Victoria Park, having previously made two starts and three substitute appearances.

On the outgoing front, Chris Holroyd is to extended his loan at Macclesfield until the end of the season.

He has scored nine goals since joining the Conference side in August.

It effectively brings his PNE career to a close, with Holroyd’s contract ending this summer.