Becks back in old routine for PNE

Jermaine Beckford celebrates with Simon Grayson after scoring against Chesterfield last May
Jermaine Beckford celebrates with Simon Grayson after scoring against Chesterfield last May
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Jermaine Beckford has found himself fully back in the spotlight after his return to action with Preston North End after his long injury lay-off.

Not only did Beckford get a hero’s welcome when he came on a substitute against Queens Park Rangers on Saturday, he has also found himself nominated for an award.

The striker is on a 10-man shortlist for the Mitre goal of the year honour at the Football League Awards.

It is Beckford’s spectacular strike against Chesterfield in the second leg of the play-off semi-final at Deepdale, which has put him in the running for the award.

He beat the Spireites keeper with a shot from just over the halfway line, having collected possession in his own half and given a defender the slip.

Last year’s winner of the award was Beckford’s PNE team-mate Joe Garner, his superb volley against Rotherham in May 2014 earning him the accolade.

The 72 Football League clubs nominated their best goal from 2015, with a judging panel whittling those down to the 10-strong shortlist.

Supporters now have their chance to choose their best goal, with voting closing at midday on April 1.

That vote will reduce the shortlist to five, with the winner decided on the night at the Football League Awards which are being held on April 17 at Manchester Central.

Voting can be done via the Football League’s website or on social media.

One of the goals Beckford is up against was scored against North End last season. It came from the boot of Fleetwood striker David Ball in last March’s 1-1 draw at Highbury Stadium.

Beckford’s 85th-minute sub appearance against QPR on Saturday was his first slice of competitive action since August.

He came off the bench twice that month against Ipswich and Watford, having seemingly recovered from cartilage damage sustained in July’s pre-season friendly against Motherwell.

But the injury flared up after a training session before the August 29 trip to Hull and Beckford had microfracture surgery in early September.

It goes without saying that it was a relief for the 32-year-old to be back in a PNE shirt.

His aim over the remaining eight games of the campaign is to build up more time on the pitch in readiness for next season.

“I’m a striker, I want goals but ultimately my aim this season is not so much how many goals I can score but how many minutes I can play,” said Beckford in an interview with PNE’s official website.

“It wasn’t the easiest game to come back in, considering how feisty it got out there.

“But we have showed over the course of the season that we are able to stand toe-to-toe with anyone in this division. The management have instilled a never-say-die attitude and there is no pressure for me, which is a lot easier.”

Beckford has this week and next to work on his sharpness, ahead of PNE resuming action after the international break against Blackburn at Ewood Park on April 2.

Having put him through a 50-minute workout in a squad match at Springfields last week, Preston boss Simon Grayson has a couple of bounce games arranged in the coming days to build-up his match fitness.