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Academy spotlight: Jayden Campbell is aiming to push on

23 October 2020

With five goals to his name already this season, Walsall Under-18s star Jayden Campbell has given Saddlers fans reason to get excited.

The winger has come of age on and off the field as he celebrated his 18th birthday recently, before netting twice away at Tranmere Rovers in a fourth successive EFL Youth Alliance victory.

“I’m a player that likes to get at other players, create chances and create problems by getting the ball into the box,” says Campbell.

“I try to be an exciting player who gets people off their seats.”

Campbell may have to begin with getting supporters off their sofas, with a date for fan’s return to stadia unclear.

A goal or more in every game so far this campaign has exhibited a maturity as well as electrifying form that has not gone unnoticed by Darrell Clarke, who has had Campbell training regularly with his side.

Campbell is grateful for being awarded the number 25 shirt at The Banks’s and the educational challenge of the first team but knows that he must keep up performances for the Under-18s to be afforded more opportunities.

“It’s been a really good experience. I’ve learnt a lot from the gaffer [Darrell Clarke] and a lot off senior players.

“Everything in the first team is really intense. In everything they do they just want to be the best and the winning mentality stands out.

“I’m looking forward to it [going back] – getting a squad number as well – hopefully I’ll be involved more but I’ve got to keep pushing for it.

Now I’m just trying to push that into the [Under] 18s with more intensity and more of a winning mentality in the team.”

That new mentality has been highly successful so far as Campbell’s efforts have helped win the first four Under-18s games, conceding just one goal and scoring 12 to sit pretty atop the EFLYA North West division.

“I definitely feel that they are expecting a lot more of me now in games and training.

“We are expected to do more because we’re experienced and have been pushed up.

“The responsibility isn’t too bad because we have a good team so it’s a lot easier to deal with and the team make it easier.

“I think we’ll win the league if I’m being honest, we’ve got a lot of depth as well so it’s not just the starting 11 – the subs can handle it – so I think we will do well this year.”

Under-18s head coach Miguel Llera has been pleased with his stars in the making, although he has warned the youngsters about complacency.

“To be with the first team is nice but the situation gives them extra responsibility because I am demanding more from them on and off the pitch.

“If any player wants to be in the first team whether they’re 16, 17 or 18-years-old they must realise they are competing with adult players.

“If they want to be there, they have to be excellent. There is not the space or the room for average players.

“They have the potential; they have to prove they deserve the chance and the only way to prove that is to impress.”


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