Jackson is determined not to let his Ipswich career slip away but the scars of relegation still run deep
- Credit: Archant
Kayden Jackson’s first Ipswich season ended with the club being relegated to League One. ANDY WARREN spoke to the striker about his desire to put things right.
Kayden Jackson is determined to kick-start his Ipswich Town career this season but has admitted the scars of relegation still run deep for he and his team-mates.
The striker arrived at Portman Road last summer and was handed the club's No.9 shirt after completing a £1.6m move from Accrington Stanley but, while he showed flashes of his ability and scored four goals, he was in-and-out of the side and was often left to toil in a lone striker role not suited to his ability.
But the 25-year-old is determined not to let his Ipswich career slip away and has returned in good shape following a summer of hard work and has netted four goals in pre-season.
He's also returned with the bit firmly between his teeth as he bids to prove he can cut it at a club like Ipswich, having risen through the football pyramid from non-league.
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He remains positive and is looking to the future, but continues to have the club's relegation to the third tier weighing heavily on his shoulders.
"It's not easy at all," he said.
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"I don't think it will ever be behind us, not while we're in League One. It's difficult and while a lot of the fans might think we're just players who are paid to go out there and play, but it has impacted our lives massively.
"I had a choice and chose Ipswich (over Peterborough) for the reason that they are a massive club and because I wanted to play Championship football.
"When I came things weren't as ideal as I would have hoped or thought but that's football at the end of the day. I'm experienced enough and wise enough to know that things don't run smoothly so it was a mad year for us.
"It's emotional more than anything and mentally you aren't in a good way. Last season it was just me and my partner who moved down so family are three or four hours away, so it's tough to switch off.
"You can't just be at home, thinking about other things, but you do try and maybe get your head away from football with little distractions.
"You never really switch off and it's impacted me in quite a big way."
But what doesn't kill you makes you stronger, as the old saying goes, and Jackson is doing all he can to take the positives from his Ipswich experience to date.
"I've taken a knock back and it's made me even more determined," he said.
"If anything it's made me more determined and that's why I've put the work in over the off-season and come back in a good condition, feeling sharp.
"Looking back to last year I didn't play anywhere near the football I'm capable of or the football I'd played in the previous year at Accrington. I know people might say 'yeah, but that was in League Two' but we played West Brom and Preston in the cups that year and did well and then we played Huddersfield, Middlesbrough in Blackburn in the weeks before I came to Ipswich and I scored goals in those games.
"I know what I'm capable of so I just hope I get the chance to show everyone at Ipswich what I can do and give to the club."
Jackson and new signing James Norwood appear to be competing for a lone striker role in Paul Lambert's side, although the two have combined well when used in a front two on occasions in pre-season, with the former Accrington man up for the challenge.
"Players have good seasons and it would be mad for the gaffer not to have brought in a player like Nors.
"We all want what's best for the club and we've all got one aim.
"It's about getting the club back to where it needs to be and hopefully I can be a big part of it as well as Nors.
"No matter what strikers he brings in or the formation we play, I'll do my bit.
"If he chooses to go with someone else then that's his choice because I can only do so much. In training I need to show what I can do and hopefully that will get me in.
"It's a big season for the club and hopefully a big season for myself because, at the age I'm at now, I can't really have too many seasons where I'm not playing football every week.
"Things change very quickly and one minute you can go from being the sort-after striker who is hot property to then being someone people don't want to take a gamble on, so I'm determined to play as many games as I can this season and help the team.
"For me personally this is the fittest and the sharpest I've been from an early stage because I did quite a lot of work over the summer so that I could come back and hit the ground running.
"I think that's shown, so hopefully there are many more good performances and goals to come from me."