Joe Garner has signed an 18-month deal at Preston North End after his contract at Watford was cancelled.

The striker had the remainder of his Hornets deal terminated yesterday and the Lilywhites have signed him until the summer of 2014, with the option of a further year.

After making three appearances for Gianfranco Zola’s men at the start of this season, the 24-year-old joined Carlisle United on loan where he scored eight goals in 17 starts for Preston’s League One rivals.

Preston boss Graham Westley told the club’s website: “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 alone then.

“I kept tabs on him throughout the season and he has obviously gone out and had a strong period on loan at Carlisle.”

Despite being born in Blackburn, Garner is a North End fan and Westley added: “He’s a lad [who] 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.”

Garner moved to Vicarage Road in the summer of 2011 from Nottingham Forest but scored just one goal in 27 appearances, including nine as a substitute.