KENNY Jackett is backing John Marquis to finally fulfil his potential after tonight’s dramatic late winner against Aston Villa in the FA Cup.
Tonight’s game appeared to be heading to a replay after Darren Bent’s first half opener was quickly cancelled out by Danny Shittu’s header.
Marquis was making his first start of the campaign following yesterday’s shock departure of Darius Henderson to Nottingham Forest.
The 20-year-old’s first team prospects have also not been helped by injury problems but manager Jackett is hoping that is all finally behind him now.
He said: “John showed a lot of promise as a young player and then gone through a tough time with injuries where he hasn’t been able to shake off a groin injury.
“It ended up resulting in an operation but he came back tonight fully fit, looked fine and obviously scoring the winner will do his confidence the world of good.
“But I thought as well it was an excellent performance in terms of leading the line.
“For a young guy who hasn’t played in such a long time his hold up play was a handful for Villa tonight.
“I’m pleased to say he showed the supporters that we have a chance of a player for the future.
“As one player moves on another one comes in, that is the nature of the football club.
“It is up to those players to step up the plate when the opportunity is there.
“There are many careers which have been made like that. Young players have to see the opportunity and take it.”
Jackett was also delighted with the way his threadbare squad had responded to going behind and then picking up a victory against top flight opponents.
He said: “It was an excellent win considering the injuries that we had.
“To some degree with players playing out of position (it was) a slightly imbalanced team.
“We persevered, we did well to come back from an early goal.
“We got a goal back from a set piece, which we’ve been poor on this season.
“With the quality and delivery of James Henry we should score more from corners.
“We got one back quickly and then into the second half we persevered well, put pressure on Aston Villa and got the late goal.
“It was a terrific stop first off from Shay Given and then John Marquis has followed up with the rebound.”
The boss added: “It was a big night definitely.
“It was a fantastic night, it was a great atmosphere generated by the crowd.
“I’m very appreciative of the way they drove us on and the atmosphere was excellent.
“The link tonight between the players and the crowd was a big one. They drove each other on.”
Jackett was also full of praise with Shittu’s display.
The manager said: “He has been that key player for this season , he certainly played a captain’s role.
“His experience, his talking, his positioning was terrific and you can see why on evenings like tonight why he is such a popular figure at The Den.”
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