Second-half hat-trick hero Simeon Jackson knows exactly the challenge that awaits him this week – trying to prise his way past on-loan Spaniard Dani Pacheco and into Paul Lambert’s starting plans for that huge game at Swansea City on Saturday evening.
In normal times, a 20-minute hat-trick would have put the 24-year-old Canadian firmly in the frame for a return to front-line duties alongside City skipper Grant Holt.
But in these extraordinary times, the smart money will be on Jackson having to repeat his super-sub role at The Liberty.
Pacheco might not have found the net against a poor Iron side, but on the basis of Lambert describing the 20-year-old’s first outing in a Canary shirt as ‘as good a debut as I’ve ever seen’ then patience may have to be a virtue for Jackson.
A fact, you sensed, not lost on the player himself as he watched and admired for the first hour of Saturday’s 6-0 demolition of a League One-bound Scunthorpe side.
“Watching from the side, some of the stuff we played was unreal,” said Jackson, whose quick-fire hat-trick took him to seven goals for the season. Put that figure alongside just 15 starts and it doesn’t look too bad a return from the former Gills hit-man.
As for his chance of a start against the Swans… that was for Lambert to ponder this week.
“That’s down to the manager – he has a headache now,” said Jackson, speaking immediately after Saturday’s thrilling success.
“But it’s one of those things now. Dani [Pacheco] has come in and done magnificently.
“You just have to watch him to see what he’s got,” added the City striker, with the one-time Barcelona youngster claiming two, big assists for Holt’s opening two goals.
“He’s a great player and definitely one to look out for.”
What also spoke volumes as to where Lambert had got his squad right now was the fact that Holt, Pacheco and Wes Hoolahan could all leave the field – job done – to be replaced by Jackson, Henri Lansbury and Sam Vokes.
And the team barely skipped a heart-beat in the way in which they continued to tear at Scunthorpe running the ten-man Iron wholly ragged with some glorious passing football. It was quite an afternoon for the Faithful. And the pace is unlikely to relent between now and the end of the season.
May 7th, ideally.
“The strength in depth we’ve got now is unreal,” said Jackson, with Lansbury in particular just carrying where Pacheco and Hoolahan had left off. It was his delivery to the near-post that enabled him to poach his second; the first, in fairness, was pretty much all his own work.
Andrew Surman was likewise in the mix for the full 90 minutes; it was his dart into the inside-left channel and tight ball across the box that give Jackson his third and final goal moments from the end.
“When we’re playing the way we are, as a striker you just have to get into the box and get on the end of things – and that’s what I did. And the skipper did that as well early on.
“So it’s a credit to the way that we’ve been playing, but just getting the result – that was the most important thing.”
He readily admitted that it was a great feeling getting back on the score-sheet; it had been something of a barren spell for the striker.
“I hadn’t scored for months, so it was a big, massive relief and tied to the way that we’ve been playing, it was really good.”
It hadn’t been easy, he admitted, with Lambert forced to throw Wes Hoolahan into that little hole off Holt as he, Chrissy Martin and Aaron Wilbraham never quite made that spot their own. And now he has Pacheco to dig out of the starting line-up
“That’s what you want though – where we are in the league, competition,” said Jackson.
“And it’s going to push us on till the end and, hopefully, get us up there.”
Did he really think, though, that he would get a chance for that third goal?
“Yes – I did,” he said, match-ball bagged ahead of Holt. “Because of the way we were playing. The chances were coming and I knew there would be another one left in it. And I was just delighted that it came.”