Playing a key role

Brian McDermott, Reading’s manager, celebrates with Adam Le Fondre after the victory against Newcastle in the English Premier League.-AP

Adam Le Fondre has come a long way in a short space of time and it is hard to believe the prolific striker was languishing in the lower leagues for so long, writes Pete Thompson.

Adam Le Fondre started last season in League Two but the striker is now playing a key role in Reading’s battle to avoid relegation from the English Premier League.

The clinical front-man has started just eight Premier League games for the Royals in his first season as a top-flight footballer, but he is still making a considerable impact.

Le Fondre came off the bench with 20 minutes remaining and scored both goals to give Brian McDermott’s side a precious 2-1 victory against fellow strugglers Newcastle.

The Stockport-born striker has five goals in his last three games after scoring twice in the FA Cup win in Crawley and also finding the back of the net in a dramatic 3-2 win over West Brom.

Le Fondre would have every reason to feel disgruntled that he was not in the starting line-up in Newcastle, but he is just happy to be playing his part for the Royals.

“I have a role to play in the team and I have to accept it. That’s how it is at the moment, but obviously I want to start games every week.” he said. “I have to bide my time because we are playing a different formation. I’ve just got to wait and take my chance when it comes. Hopefully playing like this will get me another start.”

Le Fondre’s attitude is refreshing given that he has scored 10 goals in all competitions, with two goals more than high profile summer signing Pavel Pogrebnyak, who cost a fee reportedly in excess of GBP6 million.

Royals boss McDermott is delighted with the contribution the GBP350,000 signing from Rotherham is making. “Adam is an inspired player for me. He’s got great spirit, he’s a bubbly character — he loves football, loves playing, loves training — he’s just instinctive. A couple of years ago he was playing for Rotherham in League Two and look where he is now. All the players are happy. We’ve got a really good spirit within our club. Alfie (Le Fondre) wants to play all the time, everyone wants to play, we know that.”

Le Fondre will appreciate playing in the EPL more than most given that he spent much of his career in the lower leagues.

The 26-year-old started out with his hometown club Stockport, where he came through the Centre of Excellence and scored on his debut in a 3-1 win over Bury in 2004.

After scoring 18 goals for the Hatters, Le Fondre joined Rochdale on loan in the 2007 January transfer window and scored twice on his debut in a 5-0 thrashing of MK Dons.

Le Fondre signed a permanent deal with Dale in the summer of 2007 and scored 17 goals in his first full season at the club as the Lancashire outfit reached the League Two play-off final but lost to his former club Stockport.

His prolific form continued the following campaign as he scored 21 goals and was given several awards for his performances.

Rochdale were always going to find it difficult to keep their prized asset and he joined League Two rivals Rotherham for an undisclosed fee in August 2009.

Le Fondre wasted no time in settling at his new club, scoring 10 goals in his first 13 games for the Millers to show why he was regarded as one of the most sought after strikers in the lower leagues.

He was named in the PFA League Two Team of the Year but there was more Wembley heartache as the Millers were beaten by Dagenham & Redbridge in the play-off final.

After scoring 30 goals in his debut season for the Yorkshire club it came as no surprise as Championship clubs such as Derby and Leicester were linked with Le Fondre.

He remained at Rotherham and scored only 24 goals but promotion eluded the Millers once again and he expressed his desire to leave the club at the end of the 2010/11 campaign.

Le Fondre scored four goals in Rotherham’s first four games of the following season before Reading won the race for the pacy striker’s signature and he signed a three-year deal for a fee of around GBP350,000.

He scored 12 goals as the Royals came from nowhere to win the Championship title and return to the EPL in a dream first season at the club.

Just over a year after he was scoring twice in a 4-1 victory for Rotherham at Plymouth, Le Fondre marked his EPL debut with a last-gasp penalty to secure a 1-1 draw. The prolific striker has come a long way in a short space of time and it is hard to believe he was languishing in the lower leagues for so long.

Le Fondre has been labelled a ‘super-sub’ due to the impact he has made when coming off the bench.

FACTFILE Name: Adam Le Fondre Position: Striker Club: Reading DOB: 02/12/1986 Club appearances: 348 Club goals: 142

Moment to remember: Scoring on his EPL debut to secure a draw against Stoke.

Moment to forget: Defeat in the League Two play-off final for Rochdale against his former club Stockport in May 2008.

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