Since signing for Port Vale on July 7th, 2020, Devante Rodney has adapted well to regular League Two football.
The 22-year-old striker has long promised to deliver on the professional stage and is beginning to show his true potential with The Valiants. Thus far in his career, the Manchester-born attacker has yet to find his footballing home, playing for four different sides between 2017 and 2020 before transferring to the Vale Park stadium. However, under the current regime, Rodney is beginning to find consistency and goalscoring form. But, can he fire Port Vale into an unexpected play-off position?
Establishing Himself as a Regular in Senior Football
As touched on above, despite his talent, Rodney played for numerous clubs before making his way to The Valiants as a free agent in the 2020 summer transfer window. At senior level, the 22-year-old joined Hartlepool in 2017, and he played 45 times for the club, scoring four times in the 2017-18 season. Following this, he signed with Salford City for an undisclosed fee, but he spent the majority of his time out on loan. Interestingly, these spells away from The Ammies allowed him to showcase his ruthlessness in front of goal. Over 32 loan appearances for FC Halifax and Stockport County combined, the 22-year-old scored 15 goals.
Interestingly, Rodney began his career with the Manchester City youth team back in 2007. After spending six years with the Citizens, he moved to Sheffield Wednesday on a free transfer, although he was released in 2017. Now, however, the Owls may be ruing their decision to part ways with the six-foot-two forward. As of January 11th, the South Yorkshire-based team are 6/5 in the Championship betting to be relegated from the second tier at the end 2020-21 campaign. Having scored just 15 goals in their opening 23 matches, Wednesday would undoubtedly benefit from Rodney’s new-found prowess.
A Prolific Start to the Campaign
Fundamentally, the Owls’ loss is Port Vale’s gain. After marginally missing out on a top-six spot during the 2019-20 season, The Valiants will be hoping to go one better this campaign. At the suspension of League Two, Port Vale were just one point behind sixth-placed Colchester, and a play-off spot was looking within their grasp.
However, at the time of writing, and after 23 games, The Valiants sit 13th in League Two, just six points away from Crawley Town in sixth. Reducing the gap isn’t out of the question, especially if Rodney continues his goalscoring form. With six goals, the six-foot-two attacker is the top scorer at the club, and only 18 other players have scored more than him thus far in the campaign. Currently, the 22-year-old is averaging 0.36 goals per 90 minutes and has a goal conversion rate of 21 per cent, according to the BBC. By comparison, the league’s top scorer, Paul Mullin, is finding the net with 29 per cent of his total shots.
The Platform for Growth
With Rodney, The Valiants faithful also have to acknowledge that he has scope to develop further. Although, at present, he isn’t the most clinical forward in the league, at just 22 years of age, he’s still learning about the game at senior level. One thing is for sure, if he can sustain his form and continue to take forward steps over the coming years, then he could be central to Port Vale achieving their long-term goals.