By Karan Gadhia – Deputy Sports Editor
Preston North End striker, Joe Garner spoke exclusively to Pluto about his season so far that includes scoring his 100th career goal.
His six goals and five assists have helped North End defy the odds in their first season back in the Championship to be in the top half of the league.
“It’s been a tough season but we’ve done well and sat nicely in the league. Obviously, I’d like to have a lot more goals but like I said, it’s been hard and there’s a few more games left in the season so hopefully I’ll be able to get a few more goals.
“It’s more about the team than my goals individually. We’ve had a good year and hopefully, we can finish off the season well.
Talking about adapting to life in the Championship, he said: “It’s been enjoyable. I’ve been playing upfront a lot this year which has been tough but like I said, I’ve really enjoyed it and I’m looking forward to next year.
“A lot of people had us to go straight back down because the budget we have here isn’t massive so a lot of credit has to go to the gaffer and the staff.
“It’s going to be difficult (to reach the playoffs) as there’s a couple of teams above us and they’re playing well. We’ve just got to concentrate on ourselves and hopefully, we can put a little run together and try to sneak in.”
North End have a great defensive record this season including keeping clean sheets in the first three games of the season for the first time since 1888.
“We’ve got good players in defence and all throughout the team really. We work hard for each other and we’ve had some good goalkeepers as well.”
Another boost for the side is the return of Jermaine Beckford who scored 18 goals in 31 games last season for the Lilywhites.
When Garner was asked what he would bring to the team, he said: “Goals! His pace in behind and his ability will help us out when he’s back fit.”
The Lilywhites also boast derby wins away from Deepdale beating local rivals Burnley FC, Bolton Wanderers and Blackburn Rovers.
“Beating Blackburn away and Burnley away and being involved with those wins are probably the highlight of my year.
“They’re big games and we’ve had a lot of fans travel with us away so they’ve been some good days out.”
Since signing for PNE in 2013, Garner who was a boyhood fan of the club himself, has quickly become a fans favourite at Deepdale and recently scored his 100th career goal.
“It was a great moment for myself especially supporting the team as a child and to play for the team that you support is always a nice feeling.
“It’s always nice to be supported whatever job you work in. It’s always nice to be backed and I try to give back as much as I can to them.
“It’s a great feeling to score 100 goals. It’s been really enjoyable and hopefully, I can get a 100 more!”
Garner also reflected on last season that included promotion in the playoffs and playing against Manchester United in the 5th round of the FA Cup.
“Obviously, we won at Wembley so it was a great day out and probably the best moment of my career.
“Everyone knew that club hadn’t won in the playoffs about eight or so times so to straighten that record out and get promoted at Wembley was a nice feeling.
“Obviously, it was a tough game (against Manchester United) as they’ve got some top players but I think we performed well on the night. We went 1-0 up and it was a nice experience. All the fans came out and hopefully they enjoyed their evening.”
“I’ve been 14 at a few clubs, wherever I’ve been I’ve always tried to be 14. I wouldn’t say it’s superstitious but it’s a number that I like.”
Overall, it has been a great season for Garner and the team and with Jermaine Beckford nearing full fitness, there could yet be a fairytale ending for PNE with just six games remaining.