Is it time for Scunthorpe to cut their losses with Bobby Grant?

When Scunthorpe snapped up young Accrington Stanley forward Robert Grant in June 2010 there was much talk about him being the next off the remarkable production line at Glanford Park.

The likes of Sharp, Paterson, and Hooper had or were set to move onto bigger and better things so fittingly hopes were high that the youngster from Stanley could live up to his striking predecessors in Northern Lincolnshire.

Indeed at the time Grant, who had hit 18 in 51 appearances for Stanley, stated that he was hoping to follow in the footsteps of Iron legend Kevin Keegan 40 years previous by earning a move to the top tier from Scunthorpe.

Nigel Adkins certainly believed Grant could become a special player. The 20-year-old was already a first team regular at the Lancashire club and was someone who looked to have a bright future ahead of him. Although he was out-of-contract, as he was under 24, compensation was due to Accrington. A fee of up to £260,000 was agreed based on performance and appearances at Scunthorpe.

However things have not worked out and instead of following in the footsteps of his hero Keegan he now appears to be taking the route back to the lower league football. With his contract expiring there is a controversial decision to make regarding his future but where did it go so wrong?

With Scunthorpe in the Championship, youngster Grant was always signed as one for the future and his start at the club established that with only minor roles coming off the bench. However one of his earliest appearances, as a substitute against Manchester United in the cup, confirmed that he could potentially have a distinguished career for the Iron. He put in a self-assured display for a 20-year-old coming up against one of the best sides in the world.

Despite this it was quite a shock to see him named in the starting line-up by Ian Baraclough for our game at Leicester City in October. Thrown in the deep end by the inexperienced boss, Grant looked something of a fish out of water and was substituted after only 56 minutes.

After being continuously used in a bit-part role, Grant decided to gain some much-needed playing time at League One side Rochdale. He made the ideal start for the Dale, netting on his debut and went onto make six appearances for the club, scoring once more before being recalled by Scunthorpe. However as Scunny struggled at the bottom of the Championship, Grant remained a squad player regularly featuring off the bench. He only made six more starts as the side were ultimately relegated back to League One.

This summer Grant was understandably keen to ‘draw a line’ under his disappointing first season with the club, failing to live up to the potential that Adkins first saw in him.

Big things were expected of him in League One as although he looked out of his depth in the Championship he had already demonstrated he could perform at this level during his short loan-spell at Rochdale. It started well enough and by November Grant had registered nine goals in League One. His fine performances at Charlton and at home against Tranmere demonstrated the obvious ability that he possesses. But frequently during the season he has failed to illustrate this ability; repeatedly frustrating to watch, polarising opinion on the terraces and at times proving to be a liability for the side.

Consequently Grant’s status at Scunthorpe remains one of untapped potential.

The irregularity in his play is probably the most infuriating part of his game. For every stunning long-range wonder goal (Tranmere) comes an instant that costs the side crucial points (Colchester). His past substitute appearances had resulted in self-seeking long range efforts that made life difficult not for opposition keepers but for our ball boys.

Grant was probably signed by Adkins with a view to playing him as an out and out striker but I personally think he has the ability to succeed as a winger. Too often earlier in the season, while played up-front, he was dropping deep after being left isolated by our uncreative midfield. He lacks the height and all-round ability to cause major problems in a league dominated by burly centre-backs in the centre of attack. However his nine goals for the Iron this season demonstrate that he is very capable of scoring goals. Perhaps a wider role would let this talent shine through? Indeed, the versatile front-man performed well on the left-wing during his loan-spell at Accrington, claiming three goals in his seven games back at his former club.

In part, Grant was quite unfortunate to get injured during January when Knill strengthened the attack, switching to a 4-3-3 formation with Parkin leading the line with Duffy and Barcham providing support on the flanks. However he came back from his loan spell with a better attitude and looked decent enough leading the line during our last three games of the season. Perhaps this has made Knill re-think his opinion about young Grant.

With an option to extend his current contract available it is possible that he does have a future at club after all if they decide that his obvious potential outweighs his dubious attitude. This and his recent improvement in performance and attitude may just be enough for him to get another year at the club.

However with the option to get rid approaching many fans believe it is time to cut our losses with the egotistical 21-year-old whose potential remains yet unfulfilled at Scunthorpe United. I just wonder if Alan Knill agrees.

Let me know your thoughts about Bobby’s future with the club on Twitter: @aidanmccartney

 


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