A SYLV-ER LINING!

Cloud hang­ing over Syl­van EbanksBlake’s ca­reer has lifted at Pre­ston

The Football League Paper - - NEWS - By Jack Miller

TAK­ING a sab­bat­i­cal is not a tra­di­tional ca­reer move for a pro­fes­sional foot­baller, but af­ter six months out of the game Syl­van EbanksBlake says he has re­dis­cov­ered his mojo at Pre­ston North End.

The 28-year-old hit­man found him­self with­out a club when his con­tract ex­pired at Ip­swich in the sum­mer, but be­lieved all the while he still had what it takes to cut the mus­tard in the Foot­ball League.

Ebanks-Blake could not re­vive the goalscor­ing form at Port­man Road that saw him twice win the Cham­pi­onship’s golden boot in 2007-08 and 2008-09, when his to­tal of 37 league goals helped Mick McCarthy’s Wolves into the Pre­mier League.

Pa­tient

But fol­low­ing his re­lease, spells train­ing back at Molineux, as well as with Brent­ford and Brad­ford, have given the Manch­ester United academy grad­u­ate a new lease of life.

And hav­ing signed on New Year’s Day and banged in his first goal for League One Pre­ston to res­cue a point against Yeovil, EbanksBlake ad­mits he is glad he waited for the right of­fer to come along. “Train­ing with those clubs stood me in good stead for when Pre­ston rang and gave me the op­por­tu­nity to earn my­self a con­tract,” he said.

“I was do­ing pre-sea­son-ish kind of stuff, but that is never the same as train­ing with a full squad who are pre­par­ing for a full-match sea­son, as it was more gym-based.

“I was wait­ing for the right team for me per­son­ally. Hav­ing been out of the game for so long, and also hav­ing played for some top clubs and man­agers through­out my ca­reer, it was very im­por­tant that the en­vi­ron­ment suited me and I suited the en­vi­ron­ment.

“You al­ways look at the level you’ve played at be­fore, and I knew if I stayed fit I still had a lot more foot­ball to play and more to give to the game.

“It was just about stay­ing pa­tient and I was happy to wait. When the right op­por­tu­nity came along, I jumped at it.”

With EbanksBlake join­ing Jer­maine Beck­ford and Kevin Davies ( pic­tured, left) at the Li­ly­whites, Pre­ston’s front three now makes for im­pres­sive read­ing. The trio have amassed more than 1,200 league ap­pear­ances be­tween them and 320 goals, of

which al­most 100 were in the Pre­mier League. And Simon Grayson’s Jan­uary re­cruit is adamant the com­pe­ti­tion for the two spots at the head of Pre­ston’s attack will only help the side,as they go in search of pro­mo­tion to the Cham­pi­onship.

“That com­pe­ti­tion is what you need as a player,” Ebanks-Blake added. “Top teams have top squads, and com­pe­ti­tion is al­ways wel­come. It’s no dif­fer­ent here.

“Scor­ing again against Yeovil def­i­nitely felt good. It’s al­ways good to get on the score­sheet but I was de­lighted to do it so early.

Wor­ried

“I feel good out on the pitch – bet­ter than ex­pected af­ter such a long lay-off to be hon­est. A cou­ple of months ago I was just train­ing by my­self and I was wor­ried get­ting back up to speed was go­ing to be very dif­fi­cult. But I’ve got to keep on go­ing and the proof will be at the end of the sea­son when I look back and see what I’ve done.

“I’m not look­ing in the short­term, I want to make a long-term im­pact and see what we can achieve col­lec­tively as a team this year.

“Pro­mo­tion is very re­al­is­tic. There are still 19 games left and 57 points to play for, and it is clear as day that we are in the mix.”

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Images

BACK IN THE OLD ROU­TINE: Syl­van EbanksBlake cel­e­brates his first goal for Pre­ston and, inset, Jer­maine Beck­ford

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