Jackson: There is Plenty More Improvement to Come
Friday, 1st Dec 2023 18:08
Good news for Town fans – Kayden Jackson not only believes the team has developed since the beginning of the season but that there is “plenty more improvement to come” during the remainder of the campaign as Kieran McKenna’s promotion project gathers pace.
Having bounced back from last weekend’s 2-0 setback at West Bromwich Albion with the 3-1 midweek home defeat of lowly Millwall, the next challenge for the second-placed Blues is a visit to Portman Road tomorrow of Coventry, who were only narrowly pipped by Luton to promotion last term.
Asked about Town’s progress to date, Jackson said: “You can never really know how you are going to fare against the top Championship sides until you come up against them but we were confident going into the new season.
“We worked very hard over the summer and it’s incredible where we are right now, but I think we would have backed ourselves to do well.
“Maybe not quite as good a start as we have actually had, but we definitely believed we could be in and around it.
“We still believe there is plenty more improvement to come and plenty more steps to take on our journey.
“It has been nice to see that we can compete with the best at this level but we must ensure we strive to become the best version of ourselves as a team. If we can do that we will always have a chance.”
The Sky Blues, who have progressed steadily from League Two under manager Mark Robins, have put a four-game losing run behind them and are now unbeaten in three and winning consecutive fixtures against Millwall and Plymouth Argyle without conceding any goals.
As is always the case when players are asked to comment on McKenna’s impact in almost two years in charge, Bradford-born Jackson had only positive things to say. He stated: “The manager is good at identifying people’s attributes and strengths, and playing them in positions where he knows he is going to get the best out of them.
“In League One I played in various different roles across the top line and I’m sure I will pop up in different positions this season in the Championship as well.
“I think there is a bit more space in the Championship, especially with teams being a bit more aggressive at this level, playing their own way, pressing high up the pitch and things like that. Between now and the end of the season, when the chances come along, I’m sure I can find myself in good spaces and make the most of them.”
Jackson is one of the club’s longest-serving players, joining from Accrington in August 2018 and since then making a total of 181 appearances, 87 of them from the substitutes’ bench, and scoring 27 goals, in all league and cup competitions. From his gloomy start to life with Ipswich, he is now relishing the opportunity.
“It’s all part of the cycle of football,” he added. “Had we had success when I was first here things would have been different, but chopping and changing goes on at every club and it’s very rare to see players staying in the one place for five, six or seven years.
“It’s nice that I’m one of a small group who have been here for a fair amount of time, but moving around is something that you tend to get used to as a footballer.”
Meanwhile, as one of the very few members of the current squad to experience playing in an East Anglian derby, Jackson was asked for his thoughts on the forthcoming home clash with bitter rivals Norwich at Portman Road on 16 December, which has already been declared a sell-out, but for those disappointed at not being able to get their hands on a ticket it will be screened live by Sky Sports.
It will be the first meeting between the sides in five seasons, with the home game in September 2018, in which Jackson played 84 minutes, ending 1-1 and the return in February 2019 going the Canaries’ way as they recorded a 3-0 win.
“Jackson remained on the bench that day, with boss Paul Lambert having to be restrained by a policeman before being sent off just before half-time following a scuffle close to the dug-outs.
“Norwich? When’s that?” Jackson laughed. “When I first came here the derby was a big unknown to me and the other new lads. If I remember correctly, it was fairly early in my first season here that we first played them.
“One thing I do recall is that I thought we were the better side on the day and, possibly, if we’d done a few things differently we might have got the win.
“I now know how big an occasion it is and we’re so much better equipped to tackle them now than we were then. We’ve both been on our different paths since then and it’s going to be great to play against them again. Hopefully, we can get the job done.
“At first, not knowing the history, I was surprised at how much the game meant to people. From the clubs I’d been with before signing for Ipswich, I don’t think I’d ever been involved in a derby of any real note. Experiencing the build-up to that first game against Norwich, like when I bumped into any fans and it was the only topic of conversation, was amazing.
“Even this season, in fact as soon as we got promoted from League One, all I heard was talk of the derby games against Norwich. It’s been Norwich this, Norwich that, we’re going to do this, we’re going to do that. Every time I’m out, the supermarket, the gym, anywhere, it’s all about what we better do against Norwich.
“I’m sure it will be some experience for us all if we can come out of the game with the right result. It wasn’t enjoyable going to Carrow Road and losing 3-0, I know that.
“Just driving in on the bus to the ground and seeing the large police presence was amazing. Don’t worry, we’ll be looking to get our own back in a couple of weeks when they come here.”
Asked how much he remembered about the 3-0 defeat, Jackson smiled and added: “I was on the bench and stayed there that day. I saw some scenes but some things are best left, you know, left out of football.
“I think we definitely need to put our stamp on the game when it comes along, but we’ve got Coventry and a couple of other games at Middlesbrough and Watford to focus on before we concentrate on Norwich. Rest assured we’ll be prepared for it.”
Finally, Jackson briefly turned his attention to Sunday’s FA Cup third round draw that will be shown live on ITV during coverage of the second-round tie between Eastleigh and Reading from around 12.55pm.
Jackson said: “It’s always a big occasion but before the last two seasons we didn’t have much success in any cup competition. We got rid of that hoodoo last season when we won a few FA Cup games, so hopefully it will be the same this year.
“We have a big enough squad to cope and give it a good go, and whoever we get we’ll be working hard to get the win and get through to the next round.”
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