'They have big roles to play' - McKenna's praise for Jackson and Pigott

Kayden Jackson celebrates with teammates after firing town into a 1-0 lead.

Kieran McKenna believes both Joe Pigott and Kayden Jackson have roles to play - Credit: Steve Waller - stephenwaller.com

Ipswich Town boss Kieran McKenna has insisted strikers Kayden Jackson and Joe Pigott will both have important roles to play between now and the end of the season. 

Macauley Bonne and James Norwood have topped the striking pecking order since McKenna’s arrival in the middle of December, though Jackson came into the side at Wimbledon on Tuesday night and helped lay on the opening goal of a game Town went on to win 2-0. 

It was Jackson’s first league start since last April, having found himself on the fringes under former boss Paul Cook and seemingly heading to the exit. 

But McKenna has been impressed with the former Accrington man, both in terms of his attitude away from the pitch and by what he can offer his team on it. 

“I was very clear when I came in that it was a clean slate for everyone and that I wasn’t so interested in what had gone on with previous manager,” McKenna said, when asked about Jackson’s role. 

“I have to say, Kayden has impressed me from the first day. He’s a really humble, hungry lad.  

“You might expect on meeting him that, because he hasn’t featured much at all, he might be a little disillusioned by his situation. But not at all. 

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“He made it clear to me he wants to contribute to the team wherever he can and that he wants to be here, part of a good Ipswich Town team. 

“He impressed me with his attitude straight off the bat.” 

Discussing what attributes Jackson, who has scored 18 goals in 110 Ipswich appearances can bring to the team, McKenna said:  

“He has different qualities to offer us as a player. 

Kayden Jackson closes down at AFC Wimbledon.

Kayden Jackson (right) made his first league start of the season in the 2-0 win at AFC Wimbledon. - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

“His ability to stretch defences with his speed and to run in behind is useful and his physical capacity is at an outstanding level. 

“He’s able to stretch the game for us and it’s important to have that in the squad. We have different forwards with different qualities, such as playing with back to goal and giving different threats. We have others who are good between the lines and like the ball to feet, able to play in tight spaces around midfield. 

“It’s important to have a balance in the squad and Kayden helps that. His work rate is outstanding and we think he has a part to play in the rest of the season because we’ve been impressed with him on different levels. 

“Coming into the team the other night, after so long out, I thought he did a good job for the team and stretched and occupied defenders, which allowed us to have really good control in the game. 

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

“That was the first game for him and he has areas to improve, which we’ll be working on with him, but it’s good to see him make such a positive contribution. 

“He is an important member of the squad.” 

Pigott’s yet to start under McKenna, playing only 20 minutes as a substitute under his new boss, while only starting five league matches in total since joining from AFC Wimbledon in the summer. 

Like Jackson, though, McKenna sees a real role for him between now and the end of the season. 

Scott Fraser celebrates with Joe Pigott after he had given Town the lead from the penalty spot.

Joe Pigott has struggled for starts during his Ipswich Town career - Credit: Steve Waller - www.stephenwaller

“I’ve had a few chats with Joe and he’s been training well,” the Town boss said. 

“I’ve told him he can count himself unlucky, in terms of the minutes he’s played, but we’re blessed in that department. 

“Macauley’s having a good season and contributes a lot, James Norwood has come into the side in a good recent run and has been scoring goals, meaning Joe’s needed to be a little bit patient. 

“We know the qualities he can bring, he has different ones to the other strikers and he’s proven he can score goals at this level.  

“He can also bring others things to the team because his link play, his hold up play and 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, we’re happy to carry those options and feel like people will have a part to play at different times. 

“Joe’s definitely one who can contribute between now and the end of the season.”