PNE boss has no fears over striker

Joe Garner pictured at the end of the home defeat by Ipswich
Joe Garner pictured at the end of the home defeat by Ipswich
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The goals will soon flow for Preston North End striker Joe Garner – that is the view of his manager Simon Grayson.

The North End marksman has been conspicuous by his absence from the scoresheet in the club’s opening five games of the season.

Garner has hit 51 goals in all competitions for PNE since arriving at Deepdale in January 2013, but he has yet to open his account in the Championship for the club.

The 27-year-old cut a frustrated figure at times on Saturday as North End suffered their first defeat of the season – a 2-1 home reverse against Ipswich Town.

Although Garner led the line well, he uncharacteristically snatched at a few opportunities which came his way.

It looked like he had salvaged a point for North End against the Tractor Boys 13 minutes from time, when he appeared to get his head on Chris Humphrey’s terrific right-wing cross.

The ball looked like it had crossed the line, but referee Mark Brown – after a moment’s pause – blew his whistle for a free-kick and booked Garner for deliberate handball.

Despite Garner’s goalless start, Grayson has no worries that the goals will arrive soon for his main man.

“Joe’s a marked man now,” Grayson said.

“But I think he’s just a striker who wants to score.

“I don’t think he’s worrying about anything too much.

“I think you saw last year, he’s a striker who will have a shot from 20 yards or he will want to get on the end of things. I have no worries about Joe.”

With regards to Garner’s yellow card, Grayson added: “He was booked for deliberate handball – whether it was or not I don’t know.

“The ref gave his decision, I could not really see and I’ve had a look at the DVD and it’s still unclear.”

One major positive to come out of the match on Saturday was the return to first-team action of Jermaine Beckford, who has missed the first four games of the season with a knee injury.

The former Leeds United and Everton forward received a rapturous welcome 
from the home fans in the 
75th minute when he came on as a substitute for Neil Kilkenny.

Beckford was unable to conjure up an equaliser for North End.

But Grayson admitted it was a huge boost to have him back fit and available, with Premier League Watford to come at Deepdale on Tuesday in the Capital One Cup second round.

“Jermaine picked up a knee injury during the Motherwell game in pre-season,” Grayson said.

“We had to be careful that we did not bring him back too early. It’s been disappointing that we have lost him for the period of time that we have.

“Twenty minutes on Saturday is a bonus and he certainly won’t be starting on Tuesday, but it’s a big boost to have him back.”