‘The gaffer talked to me every day... we’re in it together’ - Lankester happy to remain patient after first start
PUBLISHED: 12:39 07 October 2020 | UPDATED: 13:20 07 October 2020
Jack Lankester is happy to remain patient as he continues his journey back to full fitness following a troublesome back injury.
The young forward played 90 minutes in Town’s 2-0 EFL Trophy victory over Gillingham on Tuesday night, impressing in a central attacking midfield role as part of a young Ipswich side which included nine players who have come through the club’s academy.
It was the first time he had completed 90 minutes in 20 months, following two operations on separate stress fractures in his back and, while he’s desperate to break into the first-team as a fully-fledged starter, he’s ready to bide his time.
“That was my first 90 in more than 20 months so this was a really big night for me,” Lankester said.
“The first step was to get out there with a couple of substitute appearances but then it was about getting that first 90 minutes, which I was able to get through without any problems.
“I felt really good, I’ve been doing everything with the boys, I don’t think I’ve missed a day of training yet. And from that long-term injury that’s the main thing, just to get out there and get through it.”
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“It’s been a really long time and the gaffer (Paul Lambert) has always talked to me every day and we’re in it together, everybody on the team. When I get my chance I’ll take it and I love seeing how the boys are doing so far.
“Everyone has been supportive from day dot. From the start of the injury all the way to now, everyone’s been by my side and helping out, so it’s been really good.
“The gaffer might be being cautious with me, and that’s fine because it was a really long time, but when I do get my chance I’ll do my best to show what I can do and take it.”
The majority of Lankester’s time in the Town first-team, now standing at 14 appearances since being given his debut in October 2018 by Paul Hurst, has been spent in wide positions, but the 20-year-old is comfortable in any of the attacking three behind Ipswich’s lone striker.
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“I can play anywhere across the front three and if at some point he decides to play with an attacking midfielder, I can also do that,” he said.
“That’s where I played when I was younger a lot of the time. But I’ll play anywhere across the three or in that 10 role, I really enjoyed it.
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“Whether that’s my best route into the team depends on what formation we play but I’m happy out wide on the right, and that’s where I got my chance last time to break into the team and I can definitely play there and express myself all the way across.”
One highlight of Tuesday night’s game for Lankester was being able to start a professional game alongside close friend Brett McGavin, with two players from Bury St Edmunds knowing each other for close to a decade. It was a Bury invasion in midfield, with teenager Liam Gibbs also from the town.
“We started three in midfield and we’re all from Bury, which is really good,” Lankester said. “Brett’s been my best mate for years, we’ve grown up together so it was really nice to start a professional game with him.
“We’ve known each other since we were 10 or 11, we were in the same class at upper school, had the same friend group. Every day we spend together, he’s living with me at the moment, so it’s unbelievable to play with him out there. We sat there in the changing room and just took it all in.”
Lankester was also pleased for defender Elkan Baggott, who made his Ipswich debut in the centre of defence.
“He’s very good, very solid, big, strong and on the ball he’s really good,” the attacker said.
“Left-footed, I don’t think he really gave the ball away and when you know he hasn’t really done much, you know the defenders have done well.
“He’s confident handling the ball, he’s just as good as us, we trust him the same. He gets the ball and keeps it for us.
“At the end of the day it’s a first-team game for all of us, they’re making their debuts, that’s what they try and do and it’s a chance for them to show the gaffer and the first-team staff what they can do.”