Beattie backed to end drought and fire Accrington Stanley to safety

First published in Sport Lancashire Telegraph: Photograph of the Author by , Sports reporter

LEAM Richardson believes James Beattie will still make the difference in Accrington Stanley’s battle against relegation – as the striker bids to end a run of nine games without a goal this afternoon.

Stanley, who host Cheltenham today, have scored only one goal in their last six games and star striker Beattie has noticeably struggled to make an impact on many recent matches.

The 34-year-old netted four times in his first six appearances from the club, two coming from the penalty spot, but has not scored since the home draw with Plymouth just before Christmas.

Before his arrival at Stanley, Beattie had gone three years without a goal at Stoke, Rangers, Blackpool and Sheffield United but Richardson says confidence is not an issue for the former England international.

And he is sure that the forward’s quality will shine through as the Reds attempt to climb back out of the League Two relegation zone.

“He’s 34, coming on 35, and when you’ve played for England I don’t think confidence is a factor with James,” said the Stanley boss.

“What I would say is James perhaps tries to help other people too much. If that’s a flaw then I’d be at fault for that as well.

“When you’re down there you need to come together and players like that will come to the top.

“Players like James Beattie, Rommy Boco and other lads through the team, they always come good when you need them.”

Beattie has had to miss some training sessions after his family recently relocated back to the south coast, where he previously played with Southampton.

But Richardson says the fact that the striker decided to overcome those geographical issues to stay at Stanley until the end of the season, after his initial deal expired in early January, shows his commitment to the club.

“He stayed because he wants to help and he wants to succeed,” said Richardson.

“I’m aware of the offers he had, they were very good offers, a lot better than we could offer him.

“There’s a great amount of respect to him to want to stay just for the football, to help Stanley out.”

Regular keeper Ian Dunbavin was ruled out for several months with a shoulder injury in November but Richardson says there remains a possibility that the 32-year-old could be available again this season.

“He’s slightly ahead of schedule,” the boss said.

“Touch wood he will be fit to be selected before the end of the season.”

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