HO­GAN ‘CAN BE THE NEW VARDY’

The Football League Paper - - NEWS - By Chris Dunlavy

ROCHDALE boss Keith Hill has tipped top-scorer Scott Ho­gan to take League One by storm next sea­son – and says the striker could be the next Jamie Vardy.

Ho­gan, 22, was plucked from Non-League Hyde last sum­mer af­ter three years job­bing around the part-time scene with Wood­ley Sports, Stocks­bridge Park Steels and Ashton United.

Now he is at­tract­ing at­ten­tion from scouts across the coun­try af­ter a stun­ning de­but sea­son which has seen him hit 17 goals to fire Dale to pro­mo­tion.

Vardy, 27, also spent sev­eral years in non league – in­clud­ing three at Stocks­bridge – but af­ter a £1m move from Fleet­wood to Le­ices­ter in 2012 is now a Pre­mier League player. And for Hill, that should be Ho­gan’s aim too.

“I think Scott and Jamie are equally tal­ented,” said Hill.“And if any­thing, he’s got an ad­van­tage over Vardy in re­spect of his age.

“He’s got a re­ally bright fu­ture and he’s des­tined to play at a very high level. He’s got power, he’s got tech­nique. He’s got some­thing that’s un­coach­able – that nat­u­ral in­stinct in front of goal. He knows when to take play­ers on, when to shoot, when to pass. And he’s got ex­cep­tional pace.

“I had Scott as an ap­pren­tice at Rochdale and it just didn’t suit him at the time. He wanted to spend time with his mates, en­joy be­ing a young lad and play foot­ball just as a hobby.That’s why he dipped into non league.

Head-start

“But I think he’s now re­alised what an ex­cep­tional talent he’s got and he’s mak­ing the most of it.

“We were very for­tu­nate to re­cruit him and to re­tain him, which should give us a real head­start in League One next sea­son. He’s found a great home at Rochdale and he’s only go­ing to get bet­ter and bet­ter.”

Hill, 44, won pro­mo­tion with Rochdale in 2010, sub­se­quently guid­ing the club to its high­est ever fin­ish of ninth in League One the fol­low­ing year.

A move to Cham­pi­onship Barns­ley proved less suc­cess­ful for both par­ties, with Hill sacked af­ter 18 months and Rochdale suf­fer­ing rel­e­ga­tion back to League Two. And this time, Hill in­sists he will think longer and harder be­fore ditch­ing Spot­land.

“I had to leave to be­come a bet­ter man­ager and I be­lieve the ex­pe­ri­ences I had at Barns­ley achieved that,” he says.

“I was grate­ful for the op­por­tu­nity from Barns­ley and I’m so glad I took it. But I’ll be more pa­tient this time round.

“Ar­guably, you could say I wasn’t last time. I felt I’d taken the club as far as I pos­si­bly could. I looked at other man­agers who stayed too long at other clubs and never got the op­por­tu­nity to man­age higher. Now, I’m not in any type of rush.

“I’d never say never, but I’m very thank­ful to the fans and the board here for tak­ing me back. I have am­bi­tions for Rochdale and with this group of play­ers I be­lieve we’ll be a force in League One. And I’m happy here, there’s no ques­tion about that.”

PIC­TURES: Ac­tion Im­ages

ON THE UP: Rochdale Scott Ho­gan cel­e­brates one of his many goals Be­low: Keith Hill and his squad af­ter seal­ing pro­mo­tion

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