With 12 goals in all competitions to his name already, Rochdale’s Jake Beesley is enjoying the most prolific spell in the EFL of his career to date.
That, in part, can be attributed to the fact that he assumed penalty-taking responsibilities for Robbie Stockdale’s side this season – a role he has taken in his stride, with three of his spot-kicks converted.
Flick back through Dale’s highlights so far and it is easy to see where he gets his inspiration.
“I actually missed my first one of the season, so after that I wanted to get the next one as quickly as possible so I could put it behind me,” the 25-year-old – a reported target for Blackpool – explains to Sky Sports. “I watch Harry Kane and his technique now and try and base mine upon that.
Beesley has scored 12 goals in all competitions for Rochdale this season
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“I have had a few more since, but I always practice them. You need to know where you are going to go the day before and the week leading up, which I always try to do.”
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With a similar build, frame and way of striking the ball during open play, the comparisons do not end there. But while the England captain has, at times, laboured in front of goal for Spurs this term, Beesley has prospered.
Patience has been important for the striker, who started his career at Chesterfield and then dropped into non-League with Solihull Moors after sporadic appearances during a three-year spell at Salford.
“I never felt that I might not be able to get back into the EFL,” he continues. “I was always motivated and it was always been my goal and what I always believed that I would do. Thankfully Rochdale took me on and I feel like now I am starting to repay their faith in me.
The 25-year-old joined the club from Solihull Moors in 2020
“Scoring on a regular basis is big for confidence, especially as a striker; they always give you that boost. I feel like, in games, when I score one, I tend to score another and I have scored twice in a few games this season, which always helps.
“But I am still developing – 100 per cent. I have had great coaches during my time here – Brian Barry-Murphy and Lee Riley last season; Jimmy Shan and Robbie Stockdale this season. I think, working under them, I am improving all the time and I really do think there is more to come from me.”
A strong support network is always key for a footballer, even more so before they reach their prime – and Beesley has, arguably, one of the best around.
His dad, Paul, was a centre-back and played for Sheffield United and Leeds in the Premier League during the 1990s, making over 600 appearances in an 18-year professional. He is also close friends with Manchester United captain Harry Maguire and his brothers Laurence and Joe, to boot.
“My dad has been massive. He has never really pushed football onto me, it has always been off my own back, but when I have needed him and needed advice in tough times, he would be the one that I go to.
Dale are 17th in League Two ahead of Saturday's trip to Colchester
“He was a centre-half, I’m a striker so he has given me little tips on what he didn’t like as a defender and things like that. He has played at the highest level in this country, so is always good for that sort of thing. The life of a defender is not the one for me, though!
“Harry is another great example. He’s a great player and another good source of advice. When I need something from him, he gives me great tips. I’d like to think I’d give him a run for his money at the moment – that’s what I would tell him anyway!
Ahead of Saturday’s trip to Colchester, Rochdale are 17th in the Sky Bet League Two table, having not played a single minute since the 3-0 win over Newport on December 18.
Heading into the second half of the season, it would be presumptive to suggest Stockdale’s men were still suffering the effects of last season’s relegation, which saw Wigan pip them to survival by a single point. Now, with several games in hand, Dale are just eight points off the top seven.
“We would probably like to higher up the table and I think our performances have probably been deserving of that,” Beesley adds.
Highlights of the Sky Bet League Two match between Rochdale and Newport County
“We know that we have got a lot of talent in our squad and we can really kick on in the second part of the season, finish strongly and try and push for the play-offs, in my opinion. We need to start converting those points into three points.
“It [the congestion in the table] always keeps you motivated because you know a good run will get you right up there. If we can just string some wins together, which I know we are capable of doing, we are going to be right around the play-offs. Whether that is having to do it through the play-offs or even with a good run, the automatic places, that’s the aim for all of us, for sure.”
But first and foremost, Beesley is desperate to get back to action.
“The last month hasn’t been ideal,” he says. “The stop-start feel is definitely frustrating because our last game was probably our best performance – 3-0 against Newport who are right up there. We probably wanted to kick on from there but the circumstances mean we haven’t been able to play a game since then.
“Personally, I enjoy the quickfire games and all that goes with playing all the time. I have missed it and I’m ready to get back out there.”
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