PNE new boy has one eye on Wembley

Familiar face: Joel Byrom was a youth team-mate of Garner's at Blackburn
Familiar face: Joel Byrom was a youth team-mate of Garner's at Blackburn
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Joe Garner hopes to edge Preston North End closer to a Wembley appearance after signing for his boyhood favourites.

The 24-year-old striker is due to make his PNE debut in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy northern area semi-final at Coventry City tomorrow night.

Victory over the Sky Blues at the Ricoh Arena would take North End to within two games of Wembley.

Garner said: “It is a big tie for the club. If you can get to the final it is a great day out for the fans at Wembley and for the players.

“It is not very often you play at Wembley and hopefully we can get a victory to push us nearer.”

PNE finalised Garner’s arrival yesterday morning, with the front man signing an 18-month contract.

There is also the option of a further year’s stay should he be a successful over the next season-and-a-half.

Garner reached an agreement with Watford on Monday to settle-up the remainder of his Hornets contract.

It allowed him to move to Preston as a free agent, and he put pen to paper after passing a medical.

Deepdale is familiar territory to him, both as a player and PNE fan.

He was a season-ticket holder as a youngster, and played against North End during a loan spell with Carlisle in November.

Garner scored that night from the spot, and hopes to continue that trend in Preston colours.

“My family were sat in the Town End when I took that penalty,” he said.

“I think it’s probably the most nervous I have ever been, seeing them sat there and taking a penalty. But I was there to do a job and did it –now I’m here to play for Preston.”

There will be some familiar faces in the dressing room to help Garner settle in.

He and midfielder Joel Byrom were team-mates in the Blackburn youth side after coming through the ranks at Rovers.

Garner knows Andy Procter, who lives near him, while he won England schoolboy caps alongside Lee Holmes.

He will bolster Graham Westley’s hand in terms of selection for the Coventry clash. The injury list is starting to shorten too, that a big boost with Sunday’s league clash against Walsall coming hot on the heels of the visit to the East Midlands.

Centre-half Luke Foster will return to contention after being cup-tied for the FA Cup defeat at Millwall.

He could be joined in the travelling squad by

Holmes, Jeffrey Monakana and Bailey Wright who have all been in the treatment room recently.

But John Mousinho is ruled out with the torn hamstring he suffered at the weekend, the skipper looking at a lengthy spell on the sidelines.

North End are likely to have the backing of a decent-sized following at Coventry, with tickets priced just £5.

Prices have also been reduced for the ‘Sunday Funday’ game against Walsall, with seats £10 for adults, £5 for Over-60s and £1 for Under-16s. Ambassadors can also book a package in the Great Room for £15, which includes a two-course meal.