U's new boy had no second thoughts

PHIL Parkinson may have been the chief instigator of Johnnie Jackson's move from Tottenham to Colchester United, but the 23-year-old did not have any second thoughts even when the U's boss resigned last week.

By Carl Marston

PHIL Parkinson may have been the chief instigator of Johnnie Jackson's move from Tottenham to Colchester United, but the 23-year-old did not have any second thoughts even when the U's boss resigned last week.

Midfielder Jackson boosted morale at Layer Road by finalising his move from White Hart Lane last week, just a few days after Neil Danns left the Essex club to sign for Championship rivals Birmingham City.

Jackson impressed during an initial loan spell with the U's towards the back-end of the 2002-03 season, and has since picked up a good deal of experience playing on loan in the Championship at Coventry, Watford and Derby, as well as totalling nearly 30 first-team outings for Premiership outfit Tottenham.

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Parkinson snapped up Jackson on loan from Spurs in March, 2003, just a few weeks into his successful three-year stint as manager of Colchester United.

The Londoner enjoyed his first regular taste of first-team action, and is delighted to be back, even though Parkinson seems destined to start the new season as Hull City's new boss.

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“The fact that Colchester got themselves promoted to the Championship last season was the clincher for me. I know that I've signed for a good club,” revealed Jackson.

“Although I made a lot of appearances for Tottenham, I never got a sustained run in the team. It was always going to be difficult for me, especially when they signed five midfielders in one summer!

“Most of my negotiations this time around were with Phil (Parkinson). It doesn't seem as though he will be the manager next season, but I signed because of the club, not the manager. I see it as a great opportunity for me.

“I think that I can hold my own in the Championship. I've proved it at my previous loan clubs. I feel at home playing at this level,” added Jackson.

The U's are looking forward to their first ever season in the second tier of the Football League, having gained automatic promotion by finishing second to champions Southend in League One last term.

They will obviously be most people's favourites for immediate relegation, especially following the departure of star man Danns and the apparent loss of their highly-rated manager Parkinson.

But Jackson is the second of two familiar names to sign for Colchester this month, giving the club a big fillip in the wake of some unsettled times.

Goal-poacher Jamie Cureton, who was a big hit at Layer Road during a loan move from Swindon Town last season, has also signed a permanent deal.

Former Norwich City, Bristol Rovers and Reading striker Cureton netted seven goals in just nine starts for the U's last Autumn.

Jackson was not over-surprised by the U's dramatic promotion to the Championship, even though the club were working on the smallest budget in League One, and in front of the smallest crowds.

He continued: “I was a youngster when I arrived three years ago. I was just starting out, as was Phil Parkinson as a manager, but it was clear even then that the club was going in the right direction.

“I played as a left-back, just filling in, but I'm more at home in midfield. I consider central midfield to be my strongest position, although because I'm a left-footer I also play on the left side sometimes.

“I enjoyed my short stay at Colchester, and I'm looking forward to next season.

“I know that I will have to work hard in pre-season to get into the team. There are no guarantees.

“The club has been getting better and better over the last few years. That's why I wasn't too surprised to see them win promotion.

“Mark Yeates is a good friend of mine, due to us being colleagues at Tottenham.

“We live just down the road from each other, and I went to see both him and the team play three or four times at Layer Road last season.

“Mark had a good year on loan at Colchester, and the whole place appeared to be buzzing. The prospect of a new ground in a year or two is also exciting.

“However, I don't think that many teams in the Championship will be relishing having to play at Layer Road. They haven't done much work to it since my first stay. It is tight and compact.

“The club getting promoted made the decision for me. It also means that I won't have to move house,” added Jackson.

Left-winger Yeates was a revelation at Layer Road last season. The U's faithful will hope that Jackson emulates his former Tottenham team-mate this term.

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