Cambridge United attacker Jack Lankester backed to make further key impacts after catching the eye in win over Shrewsbury Town
Cambridge United head coach Neil Harris believes that Jack Lankester has the capability to play in a variety of attacking roles.
Since joining the U’s from Ipswich Town in the summer of 2021, Lankester has largely been viewed as a playmaker – one that looks to pop up in the space between the opposition’s midfield and defence, from where he can thread through passes or fire shots goalwards.
However, the 24-year-old showed a different side to his game during the weekend’s 2-1 win at Shrewsbury Town. Pouncing on a loose ball on the left flank, Lankester showed a good turn of foot before sending in a low cross that Lyle Taylor turned in from close range for United’s equalising goal.
And that is the sort of impact that Harris is eager to see more of from a player that is contracted to the club until June 2025.
“Whether he’s playing in the 10 role, off the right or off the left or whether he’s playing as a pair up top in 3-5-2 and dropping into pockets, I can see Jack playing all of those roles,” said Harris, who is preparing for tomorrow night’s home game against Bolton Wanderers.
“He’s been pigeon-holed in his career as being a (number) 10, but I think it’s wrong. He’s much more talented than that.
“He was excellent at the weekend. Jack’s role since I’ve been here, he’s had two-fold. He’s had from the start, where I expect an impact, and he’s been off the bench, where he’s made an unbelievable impact.
“Jack is still a very young man. He’s played a lot of football for a young man, but he’s still very young. I’ve said to him whether you start 18 games (between now and the end of the season) or you start 14 and come off the bench in four – whatever it is – you’ve got to make sure that whenever you’re on the pitch you’re impacting that game.
“He did that at the weekend and he did it in a different way. He wasn’t just between the lines, he ran past people. He’s got the ability and he’s got a really good eye for the game.
“When he plays on the front foot and he anticipates, he’s a really, really good player. But when he’s reactive and sort of hesitant and waits for the game to be played at his pace, that’s when he’s struggled.
“We’re working with Jack to make sure the mindset is right, that he knows his role from the start or from the bench.
“I really, really like him. I think he’s got so much potential to keep on developing and we looked forward to working with him over a period of time.”