SWINDON boss Richie Wellens is celebrating a stellar January window after reuniting League Two’s deadliest forward duo.
Eoin Doyle and Jerry Yates scored 33 goals between them as the rampant Robins soared to the summit of the table.
But Doyle, 31, was recalled by parent club – and League Two rivals – Bradford City at the start of January before fellow loanee Yates returned to Rotherham as cover for the injured Kyle Vassell.
Speaking after Yates’ recall, Wellens said he felt like Rocky Balboa. “I’m taking blow after blow at the minute,” he said. “And they’re not just soft jabs – they’re heavy, heavy shots.
“It’s not ideal, but you know what happened to Rocky Balboa and Dolph Lundgren in the end don’t you? Rocky won.”
And so it has proved, with Doyle – still European football’s leading scorer with 23 league goals from 22 games for the Robins – signed permanently for a reported £200,000 and 23-year-old Yates rejoining on loan until the end of the season.
“I’m buzzing to be back,” said Yates. “I want to help this club. I loved the first half of the season and, to be honest, I just can’t wait for Saturday.”
On Doyle, chairman Lee Power added: “We’re delighted to have Eoin back. It’s been a long, hard negotiation to get him here but I think I can speak for the whole football club and pretty much the whole of Wiltshire that everyone is really excited to see him back in a red shirt.”
The signings of Yates and Doyle complete a prolific window for the Robins. Carlisle striker Hallam Hope and Shrewsbury midfielder Anthony Grant were both signed on permanent deals, whilst youngsters Admiral Muskwe and Rarmani Edmonds-Green arrived on loan from Leicester and Huddersfield.
In Bradford, though, there has been considerable anger at the sale of Doyle, compounded on Wednesday by the news that 11-goal top-scorer James Vaughan had joined League One strugglers Tranmere on loan.
It is understood that both players personally requested moves, with Swindon the only possible destination for Doyle as FIFA transfer regulations state a player cannot represent more than two clubs in any single season.
“Throughout the course of any transfer window, you have to act in the best interests of the club, which we feel we have done with this agreement,” said Bantams boss Gary Bowyer, whose side were seventh in League Two pre-weekend.
City made a late move for striker Will Grigg, who is out of favour at Sunderland. However, the Northern Ireland international was not willing to leave the Black Cats for a club in a lower division.
Remaining forwards Shay McCartan, Aramide Oteh, Omari Patrick, Jordan Gibson and Clayton Donaldson have scored just five goals between them this term.