By Craig Chisnall
ALL Sam Winnall ever wanted was a chance – now he’s got one the former Wolves youngster is fast becoming one of the Football League’s brightest prospects.
The 22-year-old, who gained experience on loan at Shrewsbury and Inverness Caledonian Thistle, Hereford and Burton, was signed on a free transfer in the summer after his release from more than a decade at Molineux.
But Wolves’ loss has certainly been the Iron’s gain with the hitman bagging 13 goals before the weekend to spearhead Scunthorpe United’s title challenge.
Not that Winnall, who made just one appearance in the Wolves first team, will be allowed to take anything for granted – Iron boss Russ Wilcox has already signed three attacking players in the January transfer window.
Paul Hayes has returned for a third spell at Glanford Park with veteran Gary McSheffrey making the trip from Chesterfield, and Wilcox splashing £300,000 to land striker Paddy Madden from Yeovil.
Impressive loanees Dave Syers and Marcus Williams have also signed permanently and Winnall said: “There’s nothing like a bit of competition to keep you on your toes is there?!
“It’s up to the lads who have got the shirts to keep them and I will be doing everything to play my part in helping us get where we want to get to.
“The club have shown great ambition to bring these lads in and we all expect to be League One players next season.
“The boys we’ve brought in have all played at a higher level and haven’t come here to play in League Two for long.
“I want to play at the highest level possible and prove a point to a few people. It’s a shame I never got a chance at Wolves but I knew if I got games I would score goals.
“I’ve managed to score a few so far this season and would have bitten your hand off for 13 at this stage. Hopefully there are a few more to come.”
That might well depend on Winnall learning his lessons after he was a victim of one of the harshest sendings off of the season at Bury.
After scoring his second goal at Gigg Lane Winnall went off to celebrate only to be grabbed by an overzealous fan and then shown a second yellow by referee Geoff Eltringham.
“I couldn’t believe that happened and I thought I was very, very unfortunate,” added Winnall.
“A fan wouldn’t let me go for 3-4 seconds and the ref deemed that was a yellow and I’d already been booked. I was absolutely gutted as they scored an equaliser and I missed a massive game at Oxford. Fortunately the lads won that game but it hurt missing it and I’ve got to think about celebrating much more now!”
More celebrations will surely be on the agenda in May if the Iron continue the form they’ve shown since Wilcox was promoted from assistant to replace Brian Laws in the hotseat on November 21.
In Wilcox’s first nine games they won seven and drew two but Winnall is adamant nothing has really changed.
“We’ve all just clicked,” said Winnall. “With the amount of players that joined in the summer it was always going to take time for us to gel but I always thought once we did we would be in with a great shout of challenging.
“Unfortunately for Brian it didn’t work out for him but Russ has taken the group on and things are going well.
“I believe there’s still more to come as well from this squad with the quality we’ve added again.”