DELIGHTED boss Peter Jackson today hailed the permanent signing of Preston striker Pawel Abbott as a statement of Town's promotion intent.
The Polish Under 21 player completed his month-long loan at the McAlpine by scoring his fourth goal in six Division III games as Town hammered Macclesfield 4-0 on Saturday to seal a crucial top-three berth for the first time this season.
And Jackson today beat a noon deadline to clinch a six-figure deal and register the 21-year-old in time to face Rochdale at the McAlpine tomorrow.
Jackson has spent the last five days haggling with Deepdale counterpart Craig Brown, who had ruled out an extended loan for York-born Abbott.
While the former LKS Lodz player has agreed a three-and-a-half year deal, Town declined to reveal the transfer fee they will pay, but it is believed First Division Preston wanted to cover the £125,000 they handed the Polish club in August 2000.
The capture of Abbott as a long-term replacement for Jon Stead, who netted 18 times before his £1.25m switch to Blackburn last month, is the news Town fans were desperate to hear.
And Jackson, who thanked club supremo Ken Davy for financial backing, wants the supporters to respond by turning up the volume for Rochdale's visit.
Saturday's match, when Andy Booth, former Macclesfield player Efe Sodje and teenage debutant John McAliskey also made the scoresheet, attracted 9,729, only 468 of whom came from Cheshire.
Hopes are high that tomorrow's clash with third-bottom Rochdale, at 21 miles the closest club to Town geographically in the division, will attract five figures.
"We're in this together, we want the same thing and the fans can play a major role in helping us get there," said Jackson.
"Now we're in the top three we want to stay there, and the signing of Pawel shows we mean business this season.
"I'm delighted at the backing Ken Davy has given me, not just over this deal but ever since I came back to the club, and this is a clear signal of our intent.
"I was tracking Pawel long before I brought him here on loan, and I couldn't be happier at the job he has done.
"He has scored goals, his all-round play is good, his workrate is excellent and he's a great bloke off the field.
"Best of all, he is only 21, so he will get better still, and he will do that as a Huddersfield Town player."