PNE old-boy Garner to lead Tractor Boys front line

Former North End favourite Joe Garner is now with Ipswich
Former North End favourite Joe Garner is now with Ipswich

Preston will come face to face with Joe Garner for the first time since his Deepdale exit 14 months ago.

The 29-year-old striker is now wearing Ipswich colours after a move to Rangers did not go exactly to plan.

PNE sold him to the Ibrox outfit in August 2016 for £1.8m after a somewhat protracted transfer saga.

Garner found the net 10 times in Scotland, seven of those in the league.

But he did not particularly settle north of the border and in June made a £750,000 move to Ipswich.

Interest from the Tractor Boys went back quite a while, with them having made a bid for Garner as long ago as 2014 when he was with North End.

Garner has scored four goals for Ipswich in 13 starts, three of those in August.

He was a well loved figure during his three-and-a-half years at Preston.

A boyhood North End fan, Garner joined in early 2013 on a free transfer from Watford.

It took him a long while to get going at Deepdale on the scoring front.

He had to wait until early in the 2013/14 campaign to get his first Preston goal.

Then for the next couple of seasons, the goals flowed.

Garner netted 24 in the 2013/14 season and then 27 in North End’s play-off winning campaign.

He found things tougher going in the Championship, scoring six goals in 2015/16.

Admittedly, Garner had to play for long spells as a lone front man that term.

His time at Preston ended three games into last season when Rangers came calling.

All that summer they had been linked with him, finally putting in an offer to follow up the speculation.

At Ipswich, Garner has tended to be paired with his former Rangers team-mate Martyn Waghorn up front.

Waghorn is their top scorer with seven goals but was one of six players left out of their starting XI for Ipswich’s 3-1 defeat at Cardiff on Tuesday night – Alex Neil was in South Wales to cast his eye over the game.

Town boss Mick McCarthy explained the changes were in order to cope with three games close together.

McCarthy said: “The last time we had three games in eight days, we’d played well up until then and it looked like it was a game too far.

“There are one or two lads, more than that actually, who have had long injuries. I

“I’m not having to take care of them, but I’d like to get the best out of them in every game we play.”

McCarthy celebrated five years in charge of Ipswich this week but defeat to Cardiff was not the manner in which he had hoped to mark it.

What really frustrated him was the Suffolk side shipping the second Cardiff goal just moments after half-time.

Said McCarthy: “I think I dreamt the half-time team talk. I was pleased with the first 45 and said, ‘Let’s have a good start.

“The kick-off was awful though and we have given away a ridiculous goal.

“It killed the second-half completely.”