A majestic 35-yard chip against Southampton threatened to make the outlay immediately worthwhile.
However, the arrival of Billy Davies on New Year’s Day 2009 spelled the end for the young striker. Shunted out to the right wing, the bench and then to Watford for just £200,000, the Watford Observer reported, Forest could have been forgiven for regretting cutting their ties so quickly when Garner propelled Preston back into the second tier after a prolific, two season purple patch between 2013 and 2015.
And, after being handed only a 25 minute cameo in Pedro Caixinha’s first game in charge at his current club Rangers, you wonder what the chances are that the 28-year-old could return south of the border in the summer.
Though earning the fans admiration with his relentless endeavour, Garner has scored just four in 23 Scottish Premiership games and the fact his new manager at Ibrox seems to prefer a more fluid, technical frontline doesn’t bode well for this old-fashioned centre-forward.
However, despite Garner having history at the City Ground, and the fact that current Forest boss Mark Warburton was the man so keen to take him to Rangers in the first place, this does not mean the Championship giants should hand the striker an escape route.
After all, Garner himself admitted to the Daily Mail that he struggled to adapt to Warburton’s malleable 4-3-3 formation at Ibrox after years spend leading the line in a traditional, direct 4-4-2.
Furthermore, although he scored relentlessly for Preston in League One, promotion to the Championship diluted his goal tally. Six in 41 across 2015/16 will hardly convince Forest fans that he could take the club up a notch.
Therefore, although there are plenty of links with Forest and Garner, a return to the City Ground may be doomed from the start.