O'Neill Confirms Late Window Jackson Interest
Monday, 8th Feb 2021 17:27
Blues general manager of football operations Lee O’Neill has confirmed there was loan interest in striker Kayden Jackson late on in the transfer window and also spoke to TWTD about some of the other January deals and rumours, including Janoi Donacien’s switch to Fleetwood, Brett McGavin’s move to Ayr United and Salford City’s interest in Jack Lankester.
Late last Monday as the window was closing it was erroneously reported that Huddersfield Town had had a £1 million offer accepted by the Blues for Jackson, who is out of contract at the end of the season but with the club having an option for a further year.
While that wasn’t the case, TWTD understands a loan offer was made by the Terriers near to the deadline and O’Neill confirmed that there was interest, although unwilling to mention the name of the club involved.
“I’ve always said this, I don’t think it’s appropriate to talk about individual cases about the January window,” he said.
“There was interest in Kayden later on in the window, but it wasn’t something that club felt was really of interest going forward.
“As per any window, I always get phone calls about players, some are looking on a permanent basis and some are looking on a loan basis.
“As I said, the reason why we went into the market for loans was that we feel that there may well be some more injuries and there may well be another Covid case outbreak, we’re just don’t know, we’re making sure we’ve got enough players and making sure we’ve got the quality of players is important.”
Was it simply that the Jackson offer came too late in the day? “No, we just didn’t feel it was the right deal for the club at the moment. Like I said, I’m not going to go into specifics about the deal or who it was but in that particular case it was not something that was a good deal for the football club.”
Lankester, 21, was understood to be the subject of loan interest from Salford City, although O’Neill says that ultimately no approach was made by the Ammies.
“Again, I don’t know the story outside of the club, but Jack, myself and the manager, along with [academy head of player and coaching development] Bryan Klug, had discussions about what’s best for him going forward,” he said.
“Obviously, he’s part of our plans and we want him to stay here and be part of the push to try and get ourselves promoted, but at the same time we understand that there may be opportunities for him to go and get some first-team football.
“We looked at that and there wasn’t an interest, but we would definitely have looked at clubs if there was a situation for Jack because we feel it’s important for him to get games, but at the same time he’s part of our plans.
“He’s as determined as ever to play in our first team, which is what we want. We would only have looked at that as an alternative to that.”
One player who did move out on loan was Donacien, who joined Fleetwood until the end of the season.
Earlier in the window the Blues turned down a permanent offer for the right-back from Plymouth, understood to be in the region of £50,000, despite the 27-year-old being out of contract at the end of the season, although with the club having an option for a further year, and out of favour.
“Again, I don’t want to go into too much details on people’s contracts and situations,” O’Neill said when asked about the thinking behind that decision.
“We have an option on Janoi, with that he’s got 18 months left. Marcus paid a lot of money for Janoi two summers ago and we felt that the offer that was on the table wasn’t appropriate.
“Janoi’s been brilliant, he’d worked really hard to try and get into the team but unfortunately for him he hadn’t and we thought the way he’d gone about it, he’d deserved some first-team football and there was an option to look at him going on loan. So he’s gone out to get himself some games and we’ll assess and evaluate how he’s doing on loan.”
Was the thinking that he goes out loan, tears up a few trees and increases his value or that he does well enough to get himself back in the plans at Town? “You can’t rule anything out. You have to look at everything.
“What he needed was some games, we weren’t able to give him that opportunity and, like I said, he was very professional, he trained really hard and he waited for his opportunity.
“Luke [Chambers] has played just about every game in that position [until Luke Matheson came in on Saturday] and it was the right time for Janoi to go and get some games. We will assess where he’s at based on how his loan goes.”
The only deadline day departure from Town was Brett McGavin moving to Ayr United on loan, where he joined Corrie Ndaba, who made the switch earlier in the window.
Asked about the link-up with the Honest Men, who also had Aaron Drinan on loan a year ago, O’Neill added: “It’s a club we’ve been building a relationship with for a couple of years. Aaron went there as well. They’ve been great up there. Mark Kerr, the manager there, and [general manager] Tracy [McTrusty], the people we’ve been speaking to have been really good.
“And not only that, it’s offering a different dimension sometimes. Brett’s been one of our players who has been through the system and has been with us for quite a while, so it’s really good to go and experience and learn a different side to football outside of here, going and getting regular games.
“Looking at the start of the year with the injuries we had to Cole Skuse and a few others, Flynn, that opened a few more doors here for Brett to get some minutes here, which was great.
“If we’d said at the start of the season that by halfway through he’d have had five or six appearances, he would have been delighted with it.
“For us, we’ve set him a challenge to go and get twice as many games in the second half of the season in senior men’s football and for him playing in the Championship in Scotland is a good level for him.
“That’s the idea, there are a lot of players here and it would have been tough for him. I feel like he’s played too many U23s games, so that wouldn’t necessarily be the best option, so going out on loan for him was something that he and the club wanted to do.”
Regarding Ayr manager Kerr, who spent time at Portman Road as a young player in 2001 and came close to signing for George Burley, O’Neill added: “Having spoken to him several times on the phone, he’s a really good guy first of all and I think the players give the best references for most managers when they go on loan about what they’re like, and they’ve really enjoyed that experience with him him.
“We’re delighted that they’ve got a couple of our players, they’re important to us for the future and we trust them with the next part of their development, which is to get senior games. It won’t be easy for them because they’ve got to earn the right.”
Photo: Matchday Images
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