Simon backing PNE strikeforce to step up

Simon Grayson (pictured)  thinks Joe Garner (left) and Jermaine Beckford can impress in the Championship
Simon Grayson (pictured) thinks Joe Garner (left) and Jermaine Beckford can impress in the Championship
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Preston North End manager Simon Grayson feels confident that strike pair Jermaine Beckford and Joe Garner will fire in the Championship, after playing a starring role in promotion from League One.

The frontrunners netted 34 league and play-off goals between them in the season just ended.

Beckford will become a full-time PNE player on July 1 after his current contract with Bolton runs out.

He has agreed a two-year deal to move to Deepdale on a Bosman.

It is expected that talks with Garner over a new deal will start soon, his contract having a year left to run.

Grayson was extremely keen to bring Beckford to Preston on a permanent basis, hence his delight at terms being struck early in the summer.

He was told the good news while in Greece, a holiday he was returning from today ahead of his charity bike ride to Amsterdam on Friday.

“It all panned out well with Jermaine after we brought him in part-way through the season,” Grayson told the Evening Post.

“The partnership that he eventually got going with Joe proved to be so important in what we did.

“I really do think that those two can be a threat next season in the Championship. Jermaine has scored goals at that level – and higher – before.

“With Joe, he has not really had the chance to test himself properly in the Championship before – but now he has got that opportunity.

“Both of the lads are natural goalscorers and I think they are more than capable of stepping up.

“Chances might not come along quite as frequently as they did in League One because they will be playing against better defenders.

“But give either of them a sniff of a chance and they will find the net.”

North End saw off plenty of competition when it came to securing Beckford’s services.

Being available on a Bosman, the 31-year-old was an attractive proposition in the transfer market.

Said Grayson: “It was really important that we got Jermaine signed up and I’m delighted that the people above me have backed me.

“There were clubs here and abroad who wanted him – quite a few in the Championship and I think maybe one or two in the MLS.

“That was not a surprise, bearing in mind he has scored goals at a higher level and on the back of the season he has just had with us.

“Jermaine is happy here, happy coming into work and that showed in his play.

“Strikers of his quality on a free transfer are few and far between, so this is a great deal for us.

“Getting Jermaine in is the first piece of business in what will hopefully be quite a busy summer. We are in talks with other players, while we also want Paul Gallagher and Sam Johnstone back here after the roles they played in our promotion.

“This is generally a quiet period in football but it is starting to busy up.”