Harper: 'I used to be a striker... I want to score more goals'
- Credit: Steve Waller - www.stephenwaller
Rekeem Harper believes he can add some goals to his game having only been converted from a striker at the age of 15.
The 21-year-old has been signed from West Brom to play as one of the two sitting midfielders in Paul Cook's favoured 4-2-3-1 system, but clearly has the dynamic qualities to drive up the field and join the attack.
His two senior goals to date have both been cracking efforts from outside the box - a left-footed finish into the bottom corner against Rotherham in the Championship and an even better strike against Harrogate in the FA Cup.
“I used to be a striker up until the age of 15, believe it or not," said the former England youth international.
"My dad always wanted me to be a striker, I scored plenty of goals, but the coaches in the academy obviously saw more potential for me to play in midfield and it’s been a blessing really because that’s where my senior appearances have come in football. So I’m happy for that decision.
“To be honest, I don’t shoot enough. Scoring more goals is definitely a motivation of mine. I want to have more shots on goal and more involvements in attacking play because I believe I’ve got the capabilities to do that."
Harper has described himself as 'a beast' on the pitch, but says off the pitch he is 'quite a chilled person' and is a devout Christian.
Speaking in an interview for BBC Radio Suffolk, he said: “I feel ready to go and play a proper season of men’s football - I’ve felt like that for quite a long time now. Playing games leads to improvement and really nailing down who you are as a player.
“The gaffer just wants me to be a presence in the team. He wants me to be a leader, show all my talents, be confident, not be afraid to make mistakes and basically set a level for myself that I can’t drop off.
“What I like most about him is how he encourages improvement. That’s the kind of hunger I have. I want to get better.
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“I’m feeling really positive about my future and I'm excited to see the heights that Ipswich can reach."
Harper has been reunited at Portman Road with his former West Brom team-mate Kyle Edwards after the 23-year-old winger signed for Town earlier this week.
“It’s real good man," said Harper. "I grew up with Kyle and we’ve got quite a good relationship off and on the pitch. He’s a great character, a real positive spirit and a real talent on the pitch.
“I was aware Kyle was going on trial at other clubs (Reading and Bournemouth). He was asking me about Ipswich and I was relaying back positive information. I’m guessing he really liked the sound of it and wanted to come along on the journey too when the interest came.
“My personal opinion of Kyle is that he’s a very naturally talented player. He's exciting to watch, has got the ability to beat players and create something out of nothing. I’ve seen him score a lot of goals."
Harper and new Town captain Lee Evans already look like they've got the makings of a good central midfield partnership based on pre-season and last weekend's 2-2 home draw with Morecambe.
“It’s real easy playing with Lee," said Harper. "He’s a very good footballer, a real presence in the team. It just gives you confidence knowing you’re playing with someone like that. If you give him the ball you know he’ll look after it. Being the skipper he’s got a lot of respect.
“I’m very confident we can be the real base in this team going forwards."
Reflecting on his display against the Shrimps, Harper said: "It felt real positive. The most important thing was feeling fit. In terms of the actual game, I felt really in control. Me and Lee were in there playing passes and looking to play forwards. It felt positive and my family and friends said the same thing.
“So I feel real confident going into the next game."
On tomorrow's game at Burton, he added: "Winning breeds confidence. We’re all winners in the dressing room and obviously we want to win as soon as possible.
“We are a new bunch of players coming together. But I feel like with the quality we’ve got in the dressing room, why should we not go out to win every game? We’ll definitely be going there with the intention to take all three points back to Ipswich. Yeah man, I’m confident we can do it."