Kayden Jackson is enjoying his role in Ipswich Town’s squad despite starting just three Championship games so far this season.
The attacker has primarily been used off the bench, where his pace and power has been vital up against tired defences in the latter stages of games.
Although he may not be racking up the same number of minutes as some of his attacking teammates, he knows how important he is, with substitutes being a big part of Kieran McKenna’s tactical set-up in the Championship.
“We’ve got a big squad and we know how tough of a task it’ll be this season,” Jackson said.
“It’ll take the whole squad to be as successful as we were last year.
“For the likes of myself and the boys that’re coming on and getting a few starts here and there, it’s about being ready when the gaffer calls upon you.”
McKenna is very particular about using Jackson as a starter, looking at the opposition’s strengths and weaknesses to decide whether or not he can have a big impact.
The manager does this when assessing him as a player too. Instead of trying to turn him into an all-round attacker, he focuses on his core attributes and praises him for his speed and energy, which are what make him so unique.
“The manager is good at identifying people’s attributes and people’s strengths, as well as playing them in a position where he can get the best out of them,” Jackson explained.
“In League One, I played various different roles over the top line. I’m sure I’ll pop up in different places this season in the Championship.
“I think there’s a little bit more space in the Championship, especially when teams are aggressive and want to play their own football, press high, stuff like that.
“I’m sure that, between now and the end of the season, I’ll find myself in good spaces and make the most of it.”
Jackson was, of course, involved in Town’s last Championship campaign, which was nothing short of a disaster. They finished rock bottom in 2018/19, ultimately condemning them to four years in League One.
Signed from Accrington Stanley that summer, he was tasked with leading the line under difficult circumstances, bagging three goals in 36 games. It’s clear that he’s now playing in a side that’s much more suited for the second tier, allowing him to right the wrongs in what is just his second season at the level.
“It’s nice to be in a team that’s more equipped to have a good go at it,” he admitted.
“Obviously the past is the past and I don’t really want to dwell on it, but it’s definitely a much more enjoyable place to be.
“It’s a totally different task this year. Again, there’s some top sides, but we’re concentrating on ourselves and we know what we can achieve given the hard work we’re putting in.”
In fact, Jackson is one of just three players to be involved in the aforementioned relegation campaign.
Idris El Mizouni made 20 league appearances that season, but he’s now out on loan at Leyton Orient. Luke Woolfenden is the only other one, with his lone start coming in a 2-2 draw at home to Blackburn Rovers before being loaned out Swindon Town in League Two.
“It’s part of the cycle of football,” Jackson argued. “Had we had success in that time, things would’ve been different anyway.
“A lot of chopping and changing happens at every club. These days, you very rarely stay in one place for five, six, seven years.
“It’s nice that I’m one of the only lads that’ve stayed for that long, but in football in general, you get used to it over the years.”