New PNE strike pair tonight

Striking partner: Stuart Beavon (above) will be paired with Joe Garner
Striking partner: Stuart Beavon (above) will be paired with Joe Garner
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Graham Westley is confident Joe Garner and Stuart Beavon can form an effective strike partnership when he teams them up for Preston North End’s televised visit to Coventry tonight.

The Johnstone’s Paint Trophy northern semi-final at the Ricoh Arena (7.45pm) will be Garner’s debut for North End after joining them this week following his release by Watford.

Having first tried to sign the Whalley-based striker in the summer, PNE boss Westley is delighted to have finally got his man.

Westley told the Evening Post: “There will be those who want to talk about Garner and Beavon and note their similiarities as players.

“I think they are slightly different in that Garner is a bit quicker and a little bit more of an off-the-shoulder type.

“He pops into those little pockets like Beavon does and both lads are quality finishers.

“If we can get our passing players and creators on to the pitch in support of those two, then they will be a tough act to handle.

“Getting Garner here is business I started in the summer. We tried to get him in the early summer months but it wasn’t something we could do back then.

“We missed a few front line targets for one reason or another, with Garner being one of them.

“We had to be patient and bide our time, and we did something in the short-term with Akpo Sodje.

“People have questioned the Sodje situation and why I let him go, but I had to make sure I had room to do some business now.

“I couldn’t commit us long-term to a situation which might have stood in the way of business we wanted to do. I’m sure that Garner will grow as a player, and having a player with potential who is also a Preston fan is a real bonus for us.

“I can’t say for certain if there will be more movement in and out during January.

“But if I can make four or five things happen in and four and five things out, then I will do my hardest to.”

One outgoing piece of business has seen David Amoo’s contract cancelled by mutual consent.

The 21-year-old signed a one-year deal in the summer and has made 24 appearances, scoring once in the FA Cup first-round win over Yeovil.

Westley hopes to have a couple of players back from injury tonight, one of those possibly being Lee Holmes who scored PNE’s equaliser in the 1-1 draw with the Sky Blues before Christmas.

The winners this evening go into a two-legged northern final against either Bradford or Crewe who play next week - with Wembley the prize beyond that.

But Westley says he is not looking further than the task in hand against Mark Robins’ outfit. “We are just focusing on this one and it’s going to be tough,” said the Preston boss.

“The home club in a cup tie always has that little bit of advantage, but it is our job to make sure we put in the right performance to make sure we progress to the northern final.

“If we get to the northern final, then we are just one step removed from the final at Wembley.

“Our target isn’t just getting to the final, our target is to win the trophy.”