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Jackson Primed for Competition From Young Strikers
Friday, 6th Dec 2019 13:26

Town striker Kayden Jackson is primed for competition from younger colleagues for the first team place he has been holding down this season.

Jackson and new signing James Norwood, who have both scored seven goals, have been manager Paul Lambert’s main choices up front, with Will Keane next in line as he improves his fitness following a summer battle with injury, while Freddie Sears is closing in on a first-team return after his lengthy absence with an anterior cruciate ligament injury.

But Town’s progress in both the FA Cup and Leasing.com Trophy, when Lambert has been quite adventurous in turning to the club’s up-and-coming talent, has confirmed there are also a few young contenders knocking on the door.

Asked if the likes of Ben Folami (above) and Tyreece Simpson (below) can challenge for attacking places as the season progresses, Jackson responded: “I’m sure they can. In Ben’s case, you’ve seen him go away to play for the Australia U23s and that tells you he is obviously a good player.

“With there only being three or four senior strikers at the club I’m sure that at some point the chance will come his way and I’m also sure that he will take it. Day in, day out in training you see the quality these boys possess.

“Ben and Tyreece are only two of some really good players at this club and hopefully they will work hard and take the chance when it comes their way to show what they can do.

“I don’t take my place in the side for granted. From the way it’s been, I’ve worked hard since pre-season to get myself into the team when I might not have been down as one of the starters.

“I don’t know what other people are thinking but I didn’t think I would be starting the first game of the season, that’s for sure. But I’ve worked my way in and now that I’m where I am I want to stay there.”

Jackson has often been cast in the role of lone striker and he was asked how tough it was to do the job. He said: “I think there have been a few games where we’ve been the team that has been doing most of the attacking, and been on the ascendancy, and it’s not so hard when you’ve got bodies around you to support you.

“But there have been a couple of games where we’ve maybe been on the back foot a little bit and not had so much of the ball. It’s tough when teams might be throwing everything at you.

“It’s tough for the lads at the back to, kind of, play out with any quality really. It’s hard as a striker when it’s all about fighting for the ball, which isn’t necessarily my game, but whether I’m up there by myself or with somebody else I’ll always give my all for the team.

“A few times when I’ve been up there I’ve had Judgey or Nolo in and around me, making intelligent runs, and I think that’s the important thing.

“If we’re going to play with one up front we need bodies from midfield and out wide to be making runs and getting in beyond. It’s about getting bodies forward in general.”

With the suspended Norwood ruled out of tomorrow’s visit to the Midlands, it will be interesting to see whether Lambert turns to Keane to play alongside Jackson or again asks the ex-Accrington man to plough a lone furrow up front, with the likes of Alan Judge or John Nolan tucked in behind.

Jackson added: “There haven’t been many games where Will and I have played up front together but there have been several times when he has come on in games.

“It’s always nice to play with Keano and we’ve done it more in training because he’s not had a run of games.

“He’s been getting back from an injury and he hasn’t been up to speed with the sharpness that you get from playing regularly.

“But I’m sure that the more Keano plays the better he will become. You saw him against Coventry last week when he was neat and tidy, and he did what you would expect of him.

“He looked after the ball and linked up well with the other lads. Everyone likes playing with Keano because he’s technically such a good footballer so whether it’s me and Keano, just me or just him, we’ll be going out there to give our all and try to make sure we get the win.

“We could do with winning because we had a couple of draws in our last two league games against Blackpool and Wycombe.

“We thought we did enough to win, especially the Wycombe game. Not getting what was a perfectly good goal, so not going ahead, kind of affected the game.

“But we’ll be looking to get the win against Coventry, although they are a good side as we saw last week.

“They will make it tough for us, as most teams are looking to do in the league this season, but we have a good enough squad to cope with that and we’ll deal with it as best we can.”

With regular choice Norwood unavailable, Jackson has no problems with Luke Garbutt continuing as the side’s penalty taker after he converted impressively from the spot for Town’s second equaliser in the 2-2 home draw with Blackpool.

He added: “I won't deny that as a striker you want to take penalties – you want to score goals – but if it’s someone else who gets on the score sheet I’m not going to argue.

“Garbs put his away and you can’t argue with that. If he takes the next five and scores from them all it will obviously benefit the team, so I’m not going to argue with anyone over taking penalties.”

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