ON REFLECTION, Jerry Yates admit he should have knuckled down as a football-obsessed teenager and paid more attention to his schoolwork.

But, only a handful of years after picking up his GCSE results, he is paying his bills by scoring goals – and life simply doesn’t get much better than that.

It was a balancing act for the Swindon Town striker, who is on-loan at the club from Rotherham United.

Shoulds he stay behind after school and strive towards achieving his target grades? Or should he take a ball outside and improve on his clear talent on the football field.

Dedicating his younger years to life on the pitch has clearly paid dividends – not that he knew that at the time, though.

“Those years at school are mentally tough,” said Yates.

“You have your GCSEs to focus on. I wouldn’t say I was bad at school but all I wanted to focus on was football – I wanted to be a footballer.

“I probably should’ve tried harder at school, but I’ve got my reward now.

“It feels like I’ve been in and around professional football for a few years now.

“I’m still trying to get used to it, but at the same time I know what it’s all about now. It’s dog eat dog.”

Prior to his sending off at Colchester United earlier this month, Yates had notched two goals in two games for Town – helping Richie Wellens’ side to six points from six.

Results in his absence have stagnated – a loss at home to Northampton Town has been sandwiched between draws away to Exeter City and Cheltenham Town.

Now set to partner Irishman Eoin Doyle up front for the first time, Yates is confident Town can return to winning form against Morecame this weekend following a positive batch of training sessions.

Yates said: “Me and Eoin get along well. To be fair, everyone in the squad is spot on.

“Eoin is a great professional. He’s joined the squad and scored goals – he’s doing his job.

“It’s not a competition between the strikers or anything like that. We all want to help each other get more assists and score more goals.

“This is the first time I’ve played with Eoin. I’ve heard about him before because he’s a goalscorer.

“It’s nice to have someone like Eoin who can push me – and hopefully I can push him too.”

While Yates returns, Michael Doughty misses out.

Town’s top goalscorer from last season will miss matches against Morecambe, Leyton Orient and Macclesfield Town – a reasonably comfortable run of fixtures with neither of the mentioned three expected to mount a promotion challenge.

Nonetheless, the midfielder’s presence will be missed.

Yates said: “Michael’s absence will have a big impact, but we have players that can step up.

“I’m sure we’ll be fine, but it will have a big impact on the team.

“Jordan (Lyden) and Lloyd (Isgrove) have joined the group and made a huge impact. Lloyd is different, he can go outside and inside – he tricks himself more than anything.”