The game of cat and mouse over Eoin Doyle is set to take another step on Saturday with his return to Bradford City colours at Crawley.
The 31-year-old centre-forward’s loan to Swindon Town has been a roaring success for himself and the Robins – now the Bantams will try to make it work for them.
Doyle scored 23 goals in 22 league appearances for Swindon, including a hat-trick at Crawley in October. It has taken them top of League Two and seen him make history as the first person to win the division’s player of the month award three times in a row.
The Bantams sent Doyle out to balance the books after signing James Vaughan and Clayton Donaldson, but the deal has not worked out so well for them, fourth in the table and without Donaldson since mid-October because of a toe injury. Now the veteran is approaching full fitness.
Doyle, who sat out last week’s Swindon versus Bradford game ahead of his recall, had been quoted as saying he would be “disappointed” if he had to return.
He goes into the squad. It’s up to us to keep providing him with opportunities to add to that wonderful tally.Gary Bowyer
Swindon manager Richie Wellens has made it clear “we want the player back,” but has been coy about whether they are actively working towards that. Portsmouth’s Brett Pitman has reportedly been identified as a potential alternative.
Having already appeared for Bradford, Doyle cannot play for a third club this season.
For now, Doyle’s job is to carry on scoring and see where it takes him. He has been welcomed back, according to Bradford manager Gary Bowyer. “The banter has been great as you can imagine,” he said. “He goes into the squad. It’s up to us to keep providing him with opportunities to add to that wonderful tally.”
Bowyer will proceed cautiously with Harry Pritchard, who suffered a back problem warming up for the Boxing Day game at Carlisle United.