PNE striker eager to make his mark

PNE striker Joe Garner will face his former club Blackburn
PNE striker Joe Garner will face his former club Blackburn
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JOE Garner would love to break his scoring duck against former club Blackburn for Preston North End.

But he would settle for any of his team-mates finding the net if it delivered a Preston victory tomorrow.

PNE and Rovers meet competitively for the first time in 14 years, with Deepdale set to host its biggest attendance of the season so far.

Garner spent a number of years with Blackburn as a youngster but left without playing a first-team game.

He has endured a barren run in front of goal this season, and is yet to get off the mark in the Championship.

So tomorrow’s derby would be a timely moment for the front man to rediscover his touch in front of goal.

Garner said: “It’s up to me to start scoring and it is something I will get asked about until I do.

“Hopefully Paul Gallagher can stick over a cross and I can put it into the net.

“But it is the team performance and three points which are more important than me scoring.

“This is a big game for us and the fans, the local derbies were the ones we looked out for first when the fixture list was published.

“Hopefully it is a good game and we can get three points to keep our unbeaten run going.

“Over the last few weeks we have been playing well and got some good results.”

For Garner, this clash stands out in the list of Lancashire derbies because of geography and his upbringing as a North End supporter.

“How you view a derby game depends on where you were brought up,” said Garner. “I went to school Blackburn way and I have a lot of friends over there.

“For me personally, there is a bit more on this game than the others because of that.

“I was at Blackburn for eight or nine years – I went to their academy after they had seen me playing for Clitheroe Wolves.”

North End are six matches unbeaten, a run in which they have not conceded a goal.

Among that sequence were four goalless draws, the aim being now to add more goals to their solid play.

Jordan Pickford, Bailey Wright and Alan Browne have returned unscathed from being on international duty.

The trio all played in two games for their respective countries.

Greg Cunningham is likely to be back in contention after missing the Queens Park Rangers game before the international break because of a thigh strain.

Midfielder John Welsh also comes back into the squad, suspension having sidelined him at QPR.

Rovers, who will be led by new manager Paul Lambert for the first time, have sold out their 5,400 allocation,

All fans are asked to arrive earlier than usual as there will be increased searches.

After the game, Lowthorpe Road will be shut at its junction with Lowthorpe Crescent.

PNE keeper Steven James has joined Droylsden on loan until January 16.