Versatile Ben discusses his time with the Young Terriers
- Under-19 player Ben Jackson talks to htafc.com
- 17-year-old grabs assist and a goal against SC Braga & RC Celta
- Ben: “I want to make an impact out on the pitch”
Huddersfield Town Under-19 player Ben Jackson has hailed the test that the squad’s week-long stay in Portugal has given the players following a successful pair of games against top-quality European opposition.
The Young Terriers drew with Portuguese top-flight side SC Braga’s Under-19 team before securing a 1-0 victory over their equivalents from La Liga’s RC Celta de Vigo on Wednesday evening.
The 17-year-old had a key role in both games, winning the penalty that gave Town their goal in the draw before netting the 85th minute winner against the Spaniards; lobbing the goalkeeper after collecting a through pass from teammate Scott High.
“It’s been really good,” Ben told htafc.com on Friday morning. “Coming away with the Under-19s, I was hoping to get as many minutes as possible under my belt in the two games and that has been the case, which has been great.
“In the Braga game I moved to the left wing from right back and managed to use my speed to win a penalty, which we scored from, so I was happy.
“I played the first 45 minutes of the Celta game at left back and, to be honest, I wasn’t happy with my own performance. Thankfully I got the chance to come back on as a winger and I made up for it with the goal. That equalled my goal tally for the whole of last season, which is OK given its only September!”
Town’s Under-19 and Elite Development Team games’ programme provides the players with a variety of tests, playing against senior teams from non-league, other B teams and Under-23 teams from the UK and top-quality opponents overseas.
As a regular in Mark Hudson’s line-ups, Ben has experienced them all – and the Stockport native admitted that Braga and Celta provided a completely different challenge.
“The games are very different to the ones we play in England, as the opponents have a completely contrasting style. They’re less physical than our usual opponents – we generally have the edge in that area – but they’re much stronger on the ball, which really tests us defensively and makes us focus on keeping possession too. It’s a good challenge.
“You see both the technical quality and physical battle in the Premier League, so it’s good to be tested on both.”
Coach Hudson has also commented on the benefits of getting his young group out of its comfort zone in a foreign country; something Ben, whose main strengths include his fitness levels and pace, can appreciate.
“Again, it’s different. I’m used to training, playing games and then going home to discuss it with my family; things that I did well and where I can improve.
“Out here, we’re in our own bubble 24/7 with our teammates. It helps us focus on the work and get closer as a group, which is no bad thing.”
⚽️🥅📹 Having played the pass that led to @benjxckson being brought down for the penalty, #htafc Under-19 captain @scott_high10 stepped up to take the penalty against SC Braga last night...— HTAFC Academy (@htafcacademy) September 18, 2018
🎯 ... and found the top corner!#YoungTerriers (DTS) pic.twitter.com/YxlWzjsUn2
The new Elite Development Team gives Town’s best young players the chance to play alongside senior professionals from David Wagner’s First Team squad; something ‘Jacko’ experienced when he featured alongside Elias Kachunga and Collin Quaner at Conwy Borough earlier this season.
Ben continued: “It was great. It really helped with my confidence to play alongside two First Team players like Elias and Collin.
“You do get a feel for the quality they possess when you play alongside them. They barely make any mistakes at all; every time, their first touch is right, for example. It makes you realise the level you must strive to be at.”
Ben also explained the impact that Hudson has had on his game since moving into Academy coaching.
“He’s been great as a coach for us. We all know how good Mark was for the First Team and everything we do now has a ‘First Team feel’ to it. Every session is at the highest level and there’s a real intensity to our work. I think we’re already seeing the benefits; I feel like I’ve improved a lot under him.”
Having already made 10 starts and a further substitute appearance for Hudson’s teams, Ben’s aims for the rest of the season are clear.
“I just want to play as many minutes as possible for both the Elite Development Team and the Under-19s. I’d also love to train with the First Team if possible, but I’ll have to keep working hard for that.
“Ultimately, I want to make an impact when I get on the pitch, whoever it is for.”
The Under-19s will return to England ahead of their next game at Wigan Athletic on Tuesday 25 August.