The big interview: Colchester United’s Ryan Jackson is ‘raring to go’
- Credit: Picture: Steve Waller
Summer signing, Ryan Jackson, is anticipating an opening day battle royal at Accrington Stanley this weekend.
Flying right wing-back Jackson is all set to make his competitive debut in a Colchester United shirt, having impressed during pre-season following his switch from Gillingham.
The 26-year-old is relishing the challenge ahead, starting at an Accrington side who ground out a 2-1 home win over play-off chasing Colchester only last February – the U’s will be keen to avoid a repeat of that afternoon.
“It’s always a tough game up at Accrington. The northern teams always work hard, and it will be a battle,” insisted Jackson.
“It’s the first league game and everyone will be wanting to make their mark, and to stamp their authority on the league, so it should be a good game.
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“We as a squad are ready for the task ahead.”
Not surprisingly, as a specialist full-back or wing-back, Jackson has not scored many goals in his career, which began in earnest at AFC Wimbledon seven years ago.
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The U’s are used to being blessed with free-scoring wing-backs, especially fellow ex-Gillingham flyer Brennan Dickson, a natural winger turned wing-back who plundered 12 goals (in 36 league outings) last season before he was cruelly struck down by a serious knee injury in April.
Dickenson, a left-sided player and so on the opposite flank to Jackson, is not expected to be back in contention until next February, so it would be helpful if Jackson can add a few goals to his game, in addition to setting up goals for his more central team-mates.
“I want to get off to a good start, on a personal level, and for the team as a whole to start well,” continued Jackson, who scored in the U’s last pre-season friendly, a 2-1 defeat at the hands of his old club Gillingham last Friday.
“And think we are going to do well. We are a tight knit squad, which is what you need, with a mixture of experienced senior players, and younger lads.
“I haven’t scored more than two goals a season, in my career, but I’m looking to get more goals here. That is my aim.
“I think we are looking good ahead of the new season.
“We’ve got a few injuries, with Kurts (Kurtis Guthrie) out and (Luke) Prosser out, and obviously Dicko (Dickenson) is out long-term.
“Once we get a few of those injured players back in, we’ll be even stronger, but it’s still looking good ahead of the new season.
“I’m quietly confident, which is what you’ve got to be,” added Jackson.
Streatham-born Jackson bagged three goals in 71 league appearances for Gillingham, over the last two seasons, while earlier in his career he netted the odd goal in the Conference for AFC Wimbledon, Fleetwood Town (2011-12) and Macclesfield (2012-13).
He is certainly relishing his role as a wing-back in the U’s now well-established 3-4-1-2 formation, a system they switched, to good effect, last November following a nightmarish run of defeats.
“I’m enjoying my wing-back role, and to be fair I’ve played it for most of my career,” said Jackson.
“I played in that role at Newport, and at Macclesfield, and for Gillingham as well, so it’s nothing knew to me, to be honest.
“I kind of prefer it (to right-back), because I think I’ve got the attributes going forward, while also doing the defending well.
“It suits me to a tee.”
Jackson is also aware of the need for a strong back-three, to complement the wing-back system.
“We need solid defenders at the back, playing as a three. And this is what you get, with the likes of Easty (Tom Eastman), Frankie (Kent) and also Wynts (Alex Wynter), who has done well this pre-season.
“We are all raring to go, and looking to impress, even the players on the bench, who are pushing for a start,” added Jackson.
Jackson drew praise from his boss, John McGreal, following last Friday night’s goal-scoring cameo against the Gills.
“I thought we used the ball a lot better in the second half, and Jacko’s movement tricked their wing-back to score a good goal,” explained McGreal.
“I like to see that from my wing- backs. As you know, we’ve lost Brennan (Dickenson), and he is a tough one to try and replace.
“We’ve brought Jacko in, who we really like, and we think he’s going to be a good player for us.
“I think you saw that in the Gillingham match. From that little cameo in the final 20 minutes, you can see what type of player he could be for us.”