Watford’s academy chief Chris McGuane said his phone “doesn’t stop ringing” with enquiries from agents and clubs about the availability and progress of players under the age of 21 who fall under his remit. His phone will get even hotter this evening and over the next few days when news filters through that Alex Jakubiak took his tally for the season to 15 with a hat-trick today against Brentford.
The 19-year-old livewire scored the opener with the simplest of tap ins and then struck twice in the second half, including one with the final kick of the match, as Harry Kewell’s side came from 3-1 down to claim a draw in the Professional Development League Two South clash at Clarence Park. The 19-year-old has 13 goals in his last 12 matches.
“The third one is debatable but he’s claiming it,” joked McGuane. “Alex is a goalscorer but he does more than that. He holds the ball up well, he’s got good movement and he’s another one who is progressing very nicely. We are really pleased with where he’s at. He’s got to continue to work hard at aspects of his game if he wants go onto the next level. That’s what we are working on.”
There are always half a dozen scouts at U21 matches and the form of Jakubiak will be the talk of the League One and League Two circuit. He is contracted to the club until 2017 and there will surely be clubs who want to take him on loan or even permanently this month. The striker has already had three loan spells, at Braintree, Oxford and Dagenham & Redbridge, but he’s a more rounded, polished player these days.
“We are clear in terms of everyone’s individual plan and where they are going,” said McGuane. “We know what’s needed for Alex and at what time. He’s going very well at the minute and progressing how we want him to and how we thought he would. We’ll see what the second half of the season brings for him. We’ll do what is right for us and what’s right for his development.”
Jakubiak has made one first-team appearance, against Huddersfield the season before last, and he is realistic enough to know he has his work cut out to break into Watford’s Premier League side. He was, however, being seriously considered a spot on the bench for the FA Cup game against Newcastle United but he was ruled out of contention through illness. Watford could look to handle Jakubiak in a similar way they did with Britt Assombalonga, allow him to join a club in one of the three leagues below for a fee that reflects his experience and negotiate a sell-on fee.
Alex Jakubiak’s games and goals this season
Sheffield Wednesday: Did not score (DNS)
Hull City: Did not score (DNS)
Crystal Palace: Two
Bristol City: DNS
Sheffield United: DNS
Crewe Alexandra: DNS
Nottingham Forest: DNS
Leeds United: One
Ipswich Town: Suspended
Bristol City: DNS