Lyle Taylor – Who is the Bristol’s Rovers target?

AFC Wimbledon players train during the club's open day at The Cherry Red Records Stadium, 4 August 2015

Lyle Taylor has reached the end of his contract with League One side AFC Wimbledon. This news has attracted a large amount of interest from a number of different clubs, one of whom being Bristol Rovers. But who is Lyle Taylor and what would he bring to Rovers’ frontline?

At just 28 years old, Taylor is approaching the prime years of his career. A Montserrat international, Taylor is a proven goal scorer at League One level as shown by his impressive return of 18 goals last season in what was just his second season in the third tier of English football. As somewhat of a journeyman, he struggled to find his feet in English football, having spells at Millwall as a youngster, AFC Bournemouth and Sheffield United. At all three of these clubs he struggled to make an impression and before joining the ‘Dons, he was known to be a goal scorer with impressive returns at both Concord Rangers and Falkirk however things had never worked out for him in England. This is hard to believe considering his somewhat impressive return of 44 goals in three seasons in South London, making him the club’s all time record goal scorer in the football league. The man who has to take the majority of the credit for the revival of Taylor’s career is Wimbledon manager, Neal Ardley. Ardley, similarly to Rovers boss Darrell Clarke, is a young manager plying his trade in the football league and was the one who took the gamble on Taylor three years ago following an unsuccessful spell with Scunthorpe United.

Taylor is the sort of player who can score all goals. Standing at 6 foot 2 inches tall, he’s not only dangerous in the box from a cross but he’s also lightning quick and a clinical finisher. Designated penalty taker also, Taylor has shown he can cope under pressure and do what all good strikers do, put the ball in the back of the net. His superb opening goal in the League Two play off final against Plymouth two years ago shows this as he connected superbly with a Callum Kennedy cross to send the 25,000 Wimbledon fans crazy. He’s also not one to shy away from a long shot proven by his superb volley at Walsall where he let a long goal kick fly over his shoulder before firing home a volley on the bounce at the goalkeeper’s near post from the top of the box.

Signing Taylor would be a shrewd bit of business for Rovers following the poor first season of marquee signing Tom Nichols and the departure of Billy Bodin to Preston North End in the January transfer window. However they face fierce competition in the likes of newly relegated sides Burton Albion and Sunderland (who are naturally the favourites for his signature). Championship sides Wigan Atheric and Ipswich Town as well as fellow League One sides Southend United and Peterborough United. However as the Gas have shown in recent years, they’re a stable club with a lot of potential who are on the up which could work in their favour. However money obviously talks and Taylor could secure his financials future with a move to Sunderland. This is all of course presuming he decides against signing a new contract at Wimbledon.

Is this the striker Bristol Rovers need? Let us know in the comments below!