When forward Josh Kayode departed for international duty with Ireland ten days ago it’s fair to say he went feeling frustrated that he’d just been on a run of eight games where his hard work hadn’t been rewarded with a goal.
Two appearances for the Ireland under-21 side last week brough an assist, then a first ever goal in a green shirt as his country went on to beat Luxembourg last Wednesday.
A flight back to England in time for Friday’s training session earned him a starting place and, eventually, the biggest smile in the stadium as he put away a great piece if work from George Tanner to take his season tally to two.
Speaking after the 3-0 away win at Crawley, he said: “It’s been a good week ... a really good week. Having been away on international duty and what happened there, and it was good to get the goal today.
“I know the manager talked about the call he made to tell me he was debt collecting, and I came here with a target. I haven’t hit the target, but the lads have been great with me, pushing me, telling me you’ll get the goal. I’m just happy I got it in this game.”
“The spirit in the group is excellent and everyone’s unbelievable,” he continued. “It’s a great squad and I’m just happy to be part of it. Hopefully we’ll push on from here and keep these good performances up.
“Everyone’s obviously happy with the win. Everyone’s buzzing, as we should be. We expect this from ourselves every game, we need to put in a good shift. It’s gone now, we’re looking forward to Tuesday and putting in the same performance.
“I don’t think we’re afraid of anyone. We’re going to go out against any team and play the way we want to play. That’s what the gaffer has put into us, go out and just be ourselves and enjoy our football, which is what we’re doing at the minute.
“The gaffer’s told us to keep our heads screwed on. We’re not going to look too far ahead, we’ve got to keep our heads down, keep working hard and keep getting the three points every game that we need to hopefully do what we want to do.”
And you could see from the celebration after his goal how much it meant to him to hit the back of the net.
“It was relief,” he explained. “The gaffer’s been telling me that I shouldn’t think about it too much, I should just keep playing the way I’m playing, for the team, but that was a breath of fresh air that I needed.
“I speak to Omari after every game and I’m like, ‘I played terrible today, should have played better’. He’s like, ‘Just because you didn’t score doesn’t mean you played badly’. That’s what I need, someone like that telling me, because I am harsh on myself.
“With that goal, it’s just getting across the front man, that’s the main thing. I used to stand in the middle of the goal expecting it to come – now it’s about getting across the front and making sure the opportunity comes to me.
“The goal I got for my country, kind of put a bit more firepower in me. I came out on Saturday and said I’m going to give everything – I do every game but I had that little bit extra against Crawley and I’m glad I scored.
“As a striker, your first job is to get goals. When you’re not getting them you think, ‘am I actually doing my job right’? I need the lads to be telling me you’re playing well and shouldn’t think about it too much. The gaffer has been brilliant, telling me to keep going and the goals will come. Hopefully it’s the second of many!”
But what about the assist from George Tanner?
“In training he does that,” he commented. “He loves a bit of skill. There was one session where he nutmegged me and Omari, we were just looking at him, where did that come from?
“We know he has that in him. I’m just happy it came out on the pitch so everyone can see what a good player he is.
“I think we as a team and the fans know what we’re already capable of. This was one of our best performances I think this season. I feel like there’s many more of those to come if we just keep working hard and keep training well. But first things first we’ve just got to look forward to the next game and get the win there as well.
“Everyone wants the best for each other, that’s first and foremost. The competition for place is helping us probably play better, because no-one wants to lose their place in the team.
“As you know, if you lose your place in this team it will be very hard to get it back. It’s great, everyone’s pushing each other. N omatter who plays, we still push each other in training and we help each other out.”
And we couldn’t let him go without getting him to talk about his first goal for his country.
“I can’t explain it, words can’t describe it,” he replied. “I’m happy to have scored for my country, that’s what you dream of when you’re younger.
“I’m just going to keep doing what I’m doing here, and hopefully get another call-up and score more goals for them, maybe push on and score for the senior team, that’s the dream, but first and foremost score more goals for Carlisle.
“But targets ... I’m not telling you. You’ll have to wait until the end of the season – if I hit them, I’ll tell you.”
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