Doncaster Rovers: Tyler Smith looking to strike at the Sharp end
A fortnight ago, against Burton Albion, you could have been forgiven for thinking Billy Sharp was back in a Rovers shirt.
A run, timed to perfection, saw a forward dart to meet a superb cross from Danny Andrew and power in a header from close range.
Not Sharp, but Tyler Smith – though the likeness in approach is more than mere coincidence.
As a team mate of Sharp at Sheffield United, Smith has witnessed in close quarters the magical finishing of a man who has scored more goals this century than any other Englishman.
Who better for a 20-year-old, Sheffield-born striker to emulate then?
"Because I've been training with him for so long, looking up to him and learning off him has helped me massively,” Smith told the Free Press.
“I look up to him. He's a Sheffield lad like myself. He's a quality finisher. He’s set records and hopefully I can follow what he's done.
“What have I learned from him? How to score goals.
“I’ve was training with him every single day for the last month before I came here.
“It's just been watching him how he scores goal, how he moves and his finishing techniques. I’ve been watching him.
“As a striker most of the goals are inside the box. As long as you’re in the box when the ball is out wide, you’ve got a chance of scoring.”
It was a debut to remember for Smith as he came off the bench to bag a brace.
Being cup tied denied him the opportunity to build on his impressive maiden performance when Rovers hosted Oldham Athletic in the FA Cup
But he was handed a first start at Portsmouth last weekend and showed a different side to his game. with tireless running in a more defensive effort to keep the hosts penned in.
Ultimately, Smith is with Rovers to continue his development towards emulating Sharp on a regular basis.
He thrived during a loan spell before Christmas with Barrow in the National League, which helped heighten the attention of Rovers boss Grant McCann.
And he says his experiences with Ian Evatt’s side set him up perfectly for his stint with Rovers.
“It was massive,” he said.
“It changed me as a person, as a player, just knowing what the first team was all about.
“I got minutes, I got goals and I’ve brought it here.
“It's a massive difference here, with better players obviously.
“It's the crowd as well, it’s a lot bigger. People might not think that matters but it does, when you've got 10,000 behind you, screaming and shouting, it does affect the game.
“I like it when a crowd is cheering and chanting, it helps me.”
He certainly appreciated the support of Rovers fans on his debut, when he netted a second goal to truly announce his arrival. Smith removed his shirt and ran straight to supporters are the front of the South Stand.
“I got the booking but in that moment in time I’ll take it all day long,” he said.
Smith was recalled early from his time at Barrow due to an injury crisis at Bramall Lane.
He was part of a matchday squad for the Blades and was able to train alongside the senior side for an entire month before he made the switch across South Yorkshire.
“I got recalled back to Sheffield United and I was in and around the first team on the bench,” he said.
“I knew come January I was going to come here.
“It was really good to be around the first team – training, on the bench against West Brom, travelling to Ipswich. I was in and round the first team environment.
“But I just wanted to get back out playing games.
“I did pretty well at Barrow, and then I heard about Doncaster and I thought, great move, I want to come now.”
Smith is under instruction from Blades boss Chris Wilder to showcase what he is all about and help Rovers maintain their push for promotion from League One.
The youngster is convinced he can hit the goals trail with Rovers and is relishing the battle for a place in the side.
“United told me to come here, express yourself and do what you do best,” Smith said.
“I’m here to score goals and it was great to start like I did.
"I couldn't wait to get out there but it’s competition, it’s what I like and it’ll bring out the best in me.
“I knew when I got my chance, I had to take it.
“I want goals, opportunities, chances. In this team I know we create so many chances.
“I know I can get plenty of goals. There's always going to be goals in this team.”
As for Sharp, he too was ready with a dose of advice as Smith headed out of the door to join Rovers.
“He said for me to keep doing what I was doing at Barrow, work hard and it will pay off,” Smith said.
With more goals in the same ilk as Sharp, Smith will be well on his way to enjoying some of the beloved status his Blades team mate still holds at the Keepmoat.