Kayden Jackson is set to leave Ipswich Town after six seasons at Portman Road. Ross Halls looks back on his rollercoaster journey with the club. 

East Anglian Daily Times: Kayden Jackson, pictured signing for Ipswich in the summer of 2018. Kayden Jackson, pictured signing for Ipswich in the summer of 2018. (Image: ITFC)


Let's rewind back to the summer of 2018, which was seen as a new era at Portman Road with Paul Hurst being appointed the new manager. 

Jackson was signed from Accrington Stanley for a fee of £1.6m, which was unheard of under previous owner Marcus Evans. He was given the famous No.9 shirt at Portman Road.

He was stepping up two divisions, which probably put undue pressure on his shoulders at the time. He spent the majority of career in non-league, initially breaking into the game via Samsung's ‘Win A Pro Contract’ competition.

The pacey frontman was among a clutch of lower-league recruits that summer, which badly backfired for Hurst as he was sacked after 15 games.

Jackson found his chances limited under new boss Paul Lambert as Town finished bottom of the Championship and dropped into the third-tier for the first time since 1957.

He ended the season with four goals from 38 games, making him Town's second-highest scorer in the 2018/19 campaign.

East Anglian Daily Times: Kayden Jackson scored double figures in his second season at Town.Kayden Jackson scored double figures in his second season at Town. (Image: Newsquest)


It was a different story at the start of 2019/20 season, however, as Jackson scored four goals in the opening six games in the third tier - including a dramatic late winner against AFC Wimbledon at home. 

He hit it off with summer signing James Norwood as they built a good strike partnership. He was clearly suited to playing in a front two.

The duo had seven goals each by the end of October as Lambert's men sat top of League One, but the wheels soon came off for Town as they ended up in 11th place when the table was decided on a points-per-game basis after the Covid-19 curtailment in March 2020. 

A return of 11 goals and seven assists attracted interest from elsewhere and saw him reject a new contract. He was linked with Coventry City, Peterborough United and AFC Bournemouth. The latter made a bid said to be in the region of £2m.

Those offers were rebuffed, so the Bradford-born frontman stayed at the club for his third season. However, he had to sit out the start of the long-awaited 2020/21 campaign after testing positive for Covid-19.

East Anglian Daily Times: Kayden Jackson had to train with the Town U23s under Paul Lambert.Kayden Jackson had to train with the Town U23s under Paul Lambert. (Image: Pagepix)


Jackson didn’t get a run of starts until December, but at this point, Town's season was reaching a crossroads once again. He was sent off just 10 minutes into a crunch clash against Sunderland in January 2021, forcing the forward to apologise after the 1-0 defeat.

That wasn’t enough for furious boss Lambert, who called the tackle ‘horrendous’. The forward was then the subject of loan interest from Huddersfield Town on deadline day, but the Terriers left their enquiry far too late.

Jackson was subsequently sent to train with the under-23's by Lambert alongside fellow first-teamer Jon Nolan, with the Scot saying: 'They’ve let the club down, they’ve let themselves down and they’ve let their team mates down.'

That saw the forward take to Twitter to insist: ‘My desire to win and perform for my club will never be questioned’.

Lambert was sacked at the end of February and replaced by Paul Cook, who brought Jackson back to the first-team fold as he started five of the final 13 games of the campaign where Town limped to a ninth-place finish.

They took up their option to extend Jackson's contract by a further 12 months, but Cook promptly put him on the transfer list as part of his drastic ‘Demolition Man’ rebuild which saw more than 20 players depart Portman Road that summer. 

East Anglian Daily Times: Kayden Jackson became a regular under Kieran McKenna.Kayden Jackson became a regular under Kieran McKenna. (Image: Ross Halls)


Jackson ended up staying at Portman Road as no takers could be found for him, but he was now competing with new signings Macauley Bonne and Joe Pigott in the lone-striker role.

Jackson was restricted to just five cup starts in the first half of the 2021/22 campaign before Cook was sacked in December. New boss Kieran McKenna promised a blank slate for everyone. 

The Northern Irishman brought Jackson in from the cold and gave him a surprise start in the 2-0 win at AFC Wimbledon, which was the real springboard for him. He went on to score three goals in just six games.

Speaking after his man-of-the-match display against Burton Albion, Jackson said: “I’d been out of the team for a long spell and at times it looked as though I would probably leave, but thankfully the gaffer has come in and given me the opportunity.

“He (McKenna) wants me to do what I do well. Other managers in the past have concentrated on what I can’t do rather than what I can do. I feel like a footballer again."

Unfortunately, his season was cruelly cut short due to a hamstring injury sustained against Portsmouth, but he was handed a new two-year contract in May 2022. 

East Anglian Daily Times: Kayden Jackson celebrates his goal against Stoke City.Kayden Jackson celebrates his goal against Stoke City. (Image: PA)


Over the last two seasons, Jackson has been a key part of the squad, often shining off the bench as Town surged to consecutive promotions.

He always gave maximum effort, which was fuelled by a top attitude. He played multiple roles under McKenna, who converted him from a striker to an electrifying right winger.

His pace and power were vital up against tired defences in the latter stages of games and quickly became one of McKenna's trademark game-changing super subs.

Jackson bagged three goals in 33 games as Town won promotion to the Premier League and said: "After everything we’ve been through over the last five or six years, to be here, standing here today saying we’ve secured promotion to the Premier League is incredible.”

The club announced its retained list that Jackson would be one of four players to leave this summer, bringing his six-year spell at Portman Road to an end. 

On leaving the club, he said: "To end my time with the club on such a high, with a brilliant group of teammates and a manager who has always supported me, is something I'll always be proud of.

"Ipswich Town will always have a special place in my heart and I wish everyone well for the future."

Jackson departs the club after making 199 appearances for Town, scoring 28 goals.