Jerry Yates: The terrific talisman who is leading the Tangerines promotion charge

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Having been on-song at Swindon to towering above the rest at Blackpool, Jerry Yates has been leading the Tangerines League One promotion charge, as fans hope Championship football could return to the Bloomfield Road next season.

Blackpool’s unbeaten run stretched to 13 League One matches following their most recent 4-1 victory over Gillingham. After starting the season slowly, Neil Critchley’s side look on course for a place in the play-offs ahead as they head into their final nine fixtures of the campaign.

Despite boasting one of the most solid defensive units in the third tier, it has been the form of frontman Jerry Yates that has set the Seasiders on course for an exciting end to the 2020/21 season.

The 24-year-old has scored 18 league goals so far, which is 13 goals more than any other Blackpool player. Meanwhile, he has also netted twice in the FA Cup, including one against Premier League outfit West Brom.

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However, six of them goals have come in his last four appearances, including a brace against Peterborough and Gillingham. This would indicate the former Rotherham man has hit top form at the perfect time in the season.

Yates’s contribution has stretched further than just his goal-scoring, as he has also notched three assists and created 32 chances for his teammates. He currently sits fourth in the top scorer charts; however, he is eight goals behind Peterborough striker Jonson Clark-Harris in the race for the golden boot.

Life before Blackpool

Life for Yates started in the Doncaster Rovers youth academy before joining South Yorkshire rivals Rotherham United in his early teens. Yates would sign his first professional contract with the Millers in 2014.

A loan into the depths of non-league at Harrogate Railway Athletic saw Yates net his first senior goal in February 2015 before making his Football League debut only two months later for Rotherham away at Birmingham. Yates came on as an 85th-minute substitute for Richard Smallwood in a 2-1 defeat.

A short but successful loan spell at Harrogate Town followed in 2015/16, with Yates netting four goals in eight appearances. Due to injuries, he finally got his break at Rotherham, netting twice against Morecambe in the EFL Cup in August 2016, before scoring his first league goal against Norwich City in a 2-1 Championship victory.

Life at Rotherham saw the forward slot in and out of the team, along with a further loan spell spent at Carlisle United. However, it was a loan at Swindon Town in 2019/20 that saw the Yorkshire born man flourish, with Yates striking a formidable partnership with Eoin Doyle.

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Yates bagged 12 goals in the first half of the season before re-signing on loan until the end of the season, as the Robins secured the League Two title.

Signing for the Seasiders

Swindon’s attempted to sign Yates permanently, as emphasised by Rotherham boss Paul Warne when speaking to the Rotherham Advertiser in July 2020:

“There might have been a few phone calls, but Blackpool are the only ones to put an official bid in.”

Blackpool then acquired his signature and showed their faith in his ability by shelling out a six-figure sum. The faith shown by Blackpool in signing him has been repaid, highlighted further by his performances circulating Championship interest in January.

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Yates has been praised for offering the complete package expected from a striker. But particularly for his raw pace and ability to hold up the ball, which has helped drive him into the spotlight. 

It is almost inevitable that should Blackpool fail to be promoted this season, they will come under threat from Championship clubs hoping to lure him away from Lancashire.

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