Ipswich Town fans are going to love Joe Garner, says MOTD pundit Mark Lawrenson

Preston North End's Joe Garner

Preston North End's Joe Garner - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

Match of the Day pundit Mark Lawrenson says Ipswich Town fans are going to love striker Joe Garner.

The Blues are set to announce the signing of the 29-year-old from Scottish club Rangers today for a fee believed to be close to £1m.

Garner endured a frustrating 10-goal debut campaign at Ibrox following a £1.8m switch from Preston, the place where he wrote himself into Lilywhites folklore with two seasons of talismanic League One form.

“I’ve seen him play for so many times for Preston, with them being my club,” said Liverpool legend Lawrenson, who was born in Preston and remains a big fan. “I’m a bit surprised we’re not trying to get him back to be honest.

“I’ll tell you now, he’ll be one of the hardest working centre-forwards that Ipswich Town fans have seen in the club’s entire history. He’s a nuisance, an absolute nuisance for centre defenders – they absolutely hate playing against him.

“He’s not particularly tall or well-built, but he hangs in the air, he’s fiery, aggressive and he gets people at it. There’s a little bit of devilment about him and he’ll pick a few yellow cards, but I think all teams need that in the Championship.”

• Mixed feelings as Town fans react to potential Joe Garner switch

Garner has never reached double figures for goals in the Championship, having played in the second-tier for Nottingham Forest, Watford and Preston, but produced successive 20+ goal campaigns in the third-tier when at Deepdale.

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The front man was a team-mate of Luke Chambers and David McGoldrick at The City Ground. His transfer fee could effectively go straight to East Anglian rivals Norwich City as Rangers looks to sign midfielder Graham Dorrans for £1.2m.

“He’s rarely injured and played the majority of games at Preston,” said Lawrenson. “The only problem with Joe is that he doesn’t score enough goals. Don’t get me wrong, he scored a lot of goals in League One and will get goals in the Championship, but he’s not prolific.

“I think he’s better with someone playing alongside him, a sniffer of a striker who plays on the last shoulder. Ask someone like Jermaine Beckford, an out-and-out goalscorer, how much he enjoyed partnering Joe. I think the likes of Freddie Sears and David McGoldrick will say the same.

“The Preston fans loved him, he was popular in the dressing room and I’m sure that will be the case at Ipswich too.”

• Blues legend Terry Butcher doesn’t think Garner is the answer

Lawrenson has stepped in to replace Jimmy Bullard as the guest speaker at next Friday’s Suffolk FA Awards Night at Trinity Park.

He said: “I haven’t been to Suffolk since I played at Portman Road with Liverpool. We used to have some fantastic battles. I remember coming for a League Cup semi-final and expecting us to get absolutely pounded. We ended up winning comfortably, which was a rarity against Ipswich in those days.

“What a team that was with Mills, Osman, Beattie, Mariner, Brazil... Bobby Robson was a proper manager and someone we all looked up to.

“People tell me that the best tackle in Liverpool’s history was mine on Eric Gates. I don’t know about that. I just stuck out a long leg to tip the ball away from him as he looked to get away.

“I’ve got a lot of tales to tell from those great days. There’s a lot that’s good about football now, but one thing I do think it is poorer for is the lack of those hard tackles and people getting straight back up.”

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