Rochdale manager Keith Hill has urged striker Joe Bunney to "grasp the professional nettle" if he wants to have a career at the club.
Bunney scored the opening goal in the League One win against Scunthorpe but Hill told BBC Radio Manchester: "Joe Bunney's an amateur at times.
"He was probably the last inclusion on the subs bench, and for good reason."
The 21-year-old joined from Northern Premier League Northwich Victoria in 2013 after impressing during a trial.
"Joe was very close this week to maybe going to pastures new. He's given himself a lifeline," Hill continued.
Bunney came on as a substitute and scored his first goal of the season to put Rochdale in front against Scunthorpe on Saturday.
"He's come on and responded superbly," Hill said, "but it can't just be cameo performances, he's got to really turn himself into a professional football player."