Preston North End have made their first signing of the 2013 January transfer window, signing free agent Joe Garner on an 18-month contract.
The 24-year-old had his contract cancelled at Watford and Monday and the Lilywhites moved quickly to capture the services of the former Blackburn Rovers trainee on a deal until at least the summer of 2014, with the option of a further year.
Blackburn-born Garner spent the first half of this season on loan at Carlisle United in League One, scoring eight goals in 17 starts for the Cumbrians, including a penalty at Deepdale in the 1-1 draw in early November.
Despite being born in East Lancs, centre forward Garner is a North End supporter, with his family still Alan Kelly Town End season ticket holders. He has been handed the No.14 shirt and will be available for selection for the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy tie against Coventry City on Thursday.
Speaking about his latest recruit, manager Graham Westley said: “I looked at Joe in the summer and it wasn’t financially viable in the summer for us to strike a deal with his parent club, so we had to leave it along then.
“I kept tabs on him throughout the season and he has obviously gone out and had a strong period on loan at Carlisle.
“He’s a lad stood on the terraces and had a season ticket as a boy and has got a real passion for the Club and has got lots of qualities and the qualities he has got in front of goal are ones that will serve us well and I am excited to have him on board and look forward to seeing him wearing a shirt.”