BY GE­ORGE!

Striker Ge­orge Don­nelly says he’s just get­ting started at Rochdale

The Football League Paper - - INSIDE - By Ger­ard Meagher

GE­ORGE Don­nelly has been com­pared to Rochdale le­gend Grant Holt by boss Keith Hill, but he’s also look­ing up to an­other former Spot­land hero who is now play­ing in the Pre­mier League – Rickie Lam­bert.

Don­nelly, 24, has been sin­gled out by Hill of late for help­ing to fire Rochdale up to mid-ta­ble safety, not just for his goals, but for his new­found workrate.

Af­ter a cou­ple of years in the wilder­ness at Ply­mouth, Don­nelly re­turned to his na­tive north-west but spells at Stock­port, Fleet­wood and Macclesfield all proved fruit­less.

His start to life at Rochdale was in­con­spic­u­ous but upon Hill’s re­turn to the club Don­nelly has hit the goal trail, notch­ing five in his last eight be­fore Satur­day’s visit of Port Vale.

Ideas

It has not al­ways been a smooth ride – Hill re­vealed that un­til re­cently he’s been at odds with his squad when putting across his ideas – but the exBarns­ley boss sees plenty of Holt, who spent three years at Spot­land, in Don­nelly.

But it’s Southamp­ton’s Rickie Lam­bert – the high­est scor­ing English­man in the Pre­mier League this sea­son who also spent time at Rochdale, Stock­port and Macclesfield – who has Don­nelly’s ear.

“Rickie’s a good friend of mine. We grew up to­gether in Kirkby and we’re still close and our fam­i­lies are very close,” said Don­nelly. “I keep in touch a lot and I spoke to him about coming to Rochdale

and what the club was like and how I need to keep per­form­ing. I’m just en­joy­ing my foot­ball, which is im­por­tant, af­ter a few spells on loan af­ter Ply­mouth.

“Keith came back and I was speak­ing to a few of the lads that were here when he was but you want to form your own opin­ions and I’ve been very im­pressed.

“It’s taken a while for him to get his views and his mes­sage across and there have been some ups and downs but we’re all be­hind what he’s try­ing to do.We’ve bonded well.

“He’s been very hon­est with me, told me what he wants me to do and told it how it is. It’s not like some man­agers be­fore who have said some things and done oth­ers. I’ll take be­ing com­pared to Grant Holt all day! He’s a fan­tas­tic player and he’s the kind of player to strive to­wards be­ing like.”

Thump­ing back-to-back wins over Fleet­wood and Southend have seen Dale end any lin­ger­ing doubts over rel­e­ga­tion and a top-half fin­ish now looks on the cards. As well as Don­nelly, Bobby Grant is also in great form, and Ash­ley Grimes scored his first goal in 15 matches against the Shrimpers.

And Don­nelly be­lieves Rochdale’s strong fin­ish to the sea­son bodes well for a pro­mo­tion push next sea­son.

“As play­ers we really don’t want the sea­son to end,” he said. “We’re show­ing what we can do and we want to keep that go­ing right up un­til the fi­nal day.

“There’s plenty of op­ti­mism here about what we can achieve with Keith as the man­ager and we’re al­ready look­ing for­ward to next sea­son.”

PIC­TURES: Ac­tion Im­ages

DOU­BLE TOP: Ge­orge Don­nelly wants to be like former Rochdale striker Rickie Lam­bert, in­set, of Southamp­ton

HIGH-FLY­ING CA­NARY: Grant Holt

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