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McKenna: Jackson and Pigott Will Have Part to Play
Thursday, 27th Jan 2022 15:51

Town boss Kieran McKenna says striker Kayden Jackson has impressed him on various levels since he has come to the club and believes the former Accrington man and Joe Pigott, who has been unable to secure a regular place in the team since joining the club after leaving AFC Wimbledon in the summer, will both have a part to play in the remaining months of the season.

Jackson, 27, joined the club in the close season ahead of 2018/19 under Paul Hurst’s management and was a regular under the ex-Shrewsbury boss.

However, he fell out of favour during Paul Lambert’s time in charge and was relegated to training with the U23s, and featured only fleetingly after Paul Cook took over in March last year.

But the pacy frontman appeared from the bench at Gillingham and in the home game with Accrington, and was handed his first start since April at Wimbledon on Tuesday when he played a significant part in Wes Burns’s first goal.

“I was very clear when I came in that it was a clean slate for everyone,” McKenna said. “I wasn’t so interested in what had gone on with previous managers or who had played or who hadn’t and I have to say Kayden’s impressed me from the first day.

“Really humble, hungry lad, because he hasn’t really featured much at all on meeting him you could expect on meeting him that he might be a little bit disillusioned with the situation, but not at all. He made it clear to me he just wants to contribute to the team wherever he can.

“He wants to be here and just wants to be part of a good Ipswich Town team and a good Ipswich Town squad.

“He impressed me with his attitude straight off the bat and I think he has different qualities to offer us as a player.

“Obviously his ability to stretch defences, his speed and willingness to run in behind, his physical capacity is at a really outstanding level and he’s able to stretch the game and stretch defences.

“It’s important to have that in the squad. We have other forwards with different qualities, forwards who are better maybe with the backs to goal and holding the ball up and giving different threats.

“We have a lot of players who are good between the lines, who like the ball to feet and who are able to play in tight spaces around the midfield, so it’s important in the balance of a squad to have people who can stretch a defence, who can pin and occupy defenders, give other people space to play. And on top of that, as I say, his work-rate off the ball is really outstanding.

“We think he’s got a part to play in the squad for the rest of the season. I’ve been impressed with him on different levels.

“I thought coming into the team the other night after so long out, he did a good job for the team. He played a big part in the first half in terms of stretching and occupying defenders which enabled us to have really good control in the game.

“We had almost no threat on our goal at all in the first half. Kayden was a part of that. I think he does a lot of work that probably doesn’t get noticed on camera because of the type of player he is.

“Obviously, first game for him, he’s got areas to improve and we’ll be working on that with him but good to see him get his first start in a little while and make a positive contribution to the goal, a positive contribution to the win and we think he can be an important member of the squad.”

Pigott, 28, has made only five league starts and eight sub appearances since signing in the summer and starting the opening game as the central striker.

“I’ve had a few chats with Joe,” McKenna continued. “To be honest, he’s been training well. I said to him that I think he can count himself unlucky in terms of the minutes he’s played.

“But we’re blessed in that department at the moment. We have a number of good strikers, all with different qualities.

“Obviously Macauley [Bonne] has been having and is having a really good season and contributes a lot to the team.

“James [Norwood] has come into the team in the recent run and has been scoring goals, and Joe has had to be a little bit patient.

“We know what qualities he can bring. He’s got different qualities to the other forwards, he’s proven that at this level he can score goals. He can also bring other things to the team in terms of his hold-up play and his link play and his back to goal play is at a really good level.

“It’s difficult to manage a lot of options but with where we are in the season, with the time left in the season, we’re happy to carry those numbers, have a lot of options.

“We feel like over the course of the run of games, people can have a part to play and contribute at different times and Joe’s definitely one who can contribute between now and the end of the season.”

McKenna is pleased that he has been able to switch around his personnel in recent matches but while still winning matches.

“That’s massive for us,” he said. “Obviously, for the couple of games that we had postponed because of Covid, that made it a challenge.

“Probably in those games, we would have rotated a little bit and we ended up with the first couple of weeks having seven to ten days between the games.

“So that gave us a great chance to see the players in training and to work with the squad and work with individuals, but at the end of the day, the biggest test us going out on a match pitch.

“The players all want to play and they want their chance to show what they can do in a match.

“Obviously, we’ve been able to rotate a little bit in the last few games and keep the results at a high level and some of the performances, so that helps us. It keeps everybody hungry and it keeps more players involved.

“We want the message to be that if you’re training well and you’re competing well on a daily basis, then there will be an opportunity over the course of the season.

“We want to keep the squad big enough that we have depth in every position until the end of the season.

“And when we do get the opportunity to change the team around a little bit, that helps with the dynamic and the morale within the squad and helps us to keep the environment and competition good, hopefully until the end of the season.”

Photo: Pagepix

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ArnieM added 16:09 - Jan 27
Oh well that’s answered the question if one or both would be leaving this window then. Answer , NO.

Personally I think we’d be mad to let Pigott leave. He’s a very good striker who just needs a run of games to find his mojo again.

Jackson , going forwards to next season, I’m not so sure tbh.

Bazza8564 added 16:11 - Jan 27
Sensible comments as usual, id personally like to see a little more of Pigott. Joe seems to have become victim of Bonne's early success and hasnt had much opportunity since, even though Macca has gone off the boil.

KMs comments about the pace of Jackson and his different attributes underline how well he reads things though and obviously we see nothing of what goes on in training.

Five strikers does seem a lot when we often play with 1 1/2.....

VanDusen added 16:15 - Jan 27
I was at the front on Tuesday with a good view of Jackson working it down the left and was actually very impressed with how he grew into the game - he was integral to the goal and made a few other good runs besides. If McKenna can bring him on the way Cook has transformed JD by getting him playing more regularly it may be like a new signing... finally.

I must say I've been highly sceptical about the management change, but I hold my hands up at how well both individual performances and team mentality have been improving the last five games. Be so great if this doesn't turn out to be the umpteeth false dawn...

Saxonblue74 added 17:03 - Jan 27
First thing I've disagreed with since KmK joined us. Just cannot see what Jackson adds to the squad. I'm sure he's professional and a nice guy but just don't get it🤔 Nice to trust in a manager to prove me wrong though!

Linkboy13 added 17:20 - Jan 27
Im always open minded about players and never write them off. The fact that McKenna has been impressed with Jackson and fails to mention Pigott in the same way must cast doubts over his future. Two managers or three if you include Mcgreal have failed to be impressed with Pigott and what ive seen of him he hasn't shown enough to deserve a place in the team. I hope he comes good and proves me wrong but he's got to show more passion and commitment for me.

carlo88 added 17:22 - Jan 27
What a refreshing change to hear a manager willing to work with and improve what he's got, rather than effectively say the whole squad was rubbish aka Paul Cook last season. I know KM is only yound but seems to have an air of authority about him already.

cat added 17:28 - Jan 27
Pleasing to hear positive comments from McKenna and posters regarding Jackson. I believe with his pace, goals and assists he could do a job for us.
Watched Piggot a few times this season and he needs a confidence boost. Puts the effort in but hasn’t had the luck in front of goal, but he gives us an extra option with his height.

Saxonblue74 added 17:34 - Jan 27
Carlo88, difference is McKenna inherited a decent squad, Cook inherited unwilling dross. Not many fans shed a tear when PC had a clear out!

Suffolkboy added 18:02 - Jan 27
Firstly let’s have the utmost confidence in KM and Co ; forget anything and everything to do with , or commented upon ,or even acts put on by PC ,who proved a nice man ,good company no doubt but an
empty headed L’Pool motormouth who in comparison couldn’t identify the yolk from the white of an egg and never analysed truthfully and determinedly !
We’ve now a potentially super Manager who obviously enthuses his squad, provides clarity and direction and is equally honest and open with the media !
His totally fresh ,unvarnished approach ,clear belief that each and every player may or does have qualities to offer ( though might need education) is exactly what we ought to be guaranteed from a first class Professional at this level !
Let’s believe .let’s be positive ,let’s celebrate given such a chance .,

Karlosfandangal added 18:12 - Jan 27
Jackson first season he did well scoring goals and quite a few assits.

I felt against Wimbledon he was too far out on the left and Norwood seemed to struggle a little with no one close to him. Felt we looked better with Bonne and Chaplin and Celina in the team.

However listening to McKenna it seems that Jackson was doing what he was told to do.

It’s been a long time since I have heard a manager talking about why he has done something and it makes a lot of sense.

Miss the I played for a big club, I have been in football a long time etc (not)

Refreshing change

TimmyH added 18:21 - Jan 27
Jackson hasn't added anything to the squad almost for the last 18 months!

ringwoodblue added 18:46 - Jan 27
Under Cook, all we heard was ‘I’m not willing to talk about individual players’ so this kind of information and insight from McKenna is very welcome.

I admit I have been critical of Jackson and was happy to see him leave but I think McKenna is right, he deserves a clean slate and a chance to prove himself so I trust in his judgement.

As for Pigott I’ve never wanted him to leave or go out on loan especially to one of our competitors and can’t really understand why has hasn’t had more minutes. Hopefully we’ll see what he can offer in the coming weeks.

blues1 added 19:00 - Jan 27
Saxonblue/ TimmyH. Can only assume u weren't at Wimbledon on Tuesday night. Jackson played well, in fact did a lot more than Norwood, who was a bit quiet. Does appear the change of management may finally be able to get the best out of him. Will reserve my judgement for now, before thinking he's gonna be the answer for us long term, bcse, as u say, hasn't been great for us since his 1st season here

Saxonblue74 added 19:19 - Jan 27
Blues1, wasn't at the game but watched every minute on ifollow. Didn't see him hold up the ball, threaten the goal, go on a run or beat one single defender with his mythical "pace". His only contribution was to gift the ball to the oppo midfield which forced Walton into an excellent save.

Dear_oh_Dear added 19:27 - Jan 27
McKenna is a class act- we will go places with him in charge

Letchworth_Blue added 19:36 - Jan 27
Not sure I would agree with the "blessed" comment for striking options. Apart from Burns brace the other night we only had one shot on goal....we have relied on Burns and Chaplin to rescue us when Bonne was going through his baren spell. Jackson and Piggott nedd to be making the most of any opportunities or they need to be shipped out and replaced if we have any ambitions of being promoted.

Radlett_blue added 22:39 - Jan 27
McKenna is sensible in not bombing out any players, but we'll see which players he really wants in the summer. Jackson will be going on a free, but use him for the rest of the season as his transfer value is negligible. Pigott - well, we'll see, as neither Bonne nor Norwood may be at Town next season.

Mariner1974 added 00:44 - Jan 28
Never quite understood why so many fans have such a downer on Kayden Jackson. Come on, the club even created a poster with both him and Norwood on together as the fearsome duo when they were working well in tandem and banging in the goals, so he must have done something right at some point at Portman? He's certainly fallen well away since Lambert cast him aside for that red card lunge, but has he ever really been given a chance since? Cook of course never gave him the time of day, so how are we supposed to assess what he's capable of. McK has taken a fresh look at things with a squad who he probably knew hardly anything about and judged them on what they've shown in training.

All this nice guy bull about Paul Cook has to be laid to rest. He hung up all the old squad to dry, because he failed to get anything out of them and to save his job. Matt Gil could get them to play for him, but they didn't warm to Cook, as have I never been able to. To chuck Bishop, Downes, Lankester, Wilson and co into the same pot as the ageing Chambers, Skuse, Judge and Sears, just shows a lack of insight and selfishness to his own agenda.

Jackson is one of those players like Woolfenden that many of the fans on here have given loads of grief and would have discarded many moons ago, but now look at Woolfenden. He hasn't suddenly become a good calm defender. He always had the attributes since day one, but the knee jerk reactions of some to his performances in a new team and system that didn't support him, would have seen him on the dumper truck. God forbid he has a conversation with Swindon players that he once played in a team with, that meant he cared not to play for ITFC right? Adam Webster never had the support of the fans. Woolfie is one of our own, and could progress to be rival Webster in his premier status, but people are very quick to toss players to one side. Because he came through the youth system, Kenlock's had more let-offs than a 25 year old whoopie cushion. The blokes absolutely bobbins, but never got the grief that Woolfie has received...til now, when all the haters are keeping quiet. He's just one pass back away each time though of course...


KernewekBlue added 10:26 - Jan 28
I've never been impressed by Kayden Jackson.

He sounded like a decent acquisition when Hurst brought him in but he has never set the world alight for me... seemed totally out of his depth and a good level above where he should have been playing. I'd quite happily have dumped him with the others who left in the mass clear-out and thought no more about it.

However, if KMcK sees potential in Jackson to help the team win games, then I'll keep my opinions on him to myself for now.

I'm surprised Joe Pigott hasn't had more game time but his opportunity will arise... It's a long season and we'll need all hands to the pumps to see it through. It's good for the manager to have other options.

At the moment, the new manager has proven to be a revelation. He seems to be intelligent, knowledgeable, articulate, hard working, flexible and amiable, in all the right proportions, to set the team up well and get them firing for him and for us. He has options in his style of play that we have lacked for several years and appears able to tweak things on the hoof to improve our on-field performances, helping us to convert games into points. How I've missed that.

Every successful team has depth and good cover in all positions... I believe we're now becoming a good team with good depth and are pushing, full steam ahead, to be a successful team.

The wholesale culling of the old guard during the summer was a necessary step. We'd never have been able to move forward with the squad we had, no matter who came in to manage the team. Paul Cook, love him or hate him (or indifferent to him), actually assembled a good squad who should have provided him with more points in the bag but, for whatever reason, he failed to get a consistent tune out of them. I can only assume that his management style and tactics (or lack thereof) didn't gel with the players.

I've always had optimism and the faith that one day, something better would lie ahead for this wonderful club of ours... perhaps, finally, Kieran McKenna is it?

I really, really hope so!

dangerous30 added 10:50 - Jan 28
We just need to get behind the team the manger given everyone a clean slate let’s do the same.

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