Jerome happy to pass on his experience at Luton but makes it clear he wants to start for the Hatters

New addition looking to be a first team regular after leaving MK Dons

Wednesday, 23rd June 2021, 8:30 am
Updated Wednesday, 23rd June 2021, 8:46 am
New Luton striker Cameron Jerome

New Luton signing Cameron Jerome has made it quite clear that his main goal is to be a regular in the Hatters’ starting line-up this season.

The forward became Town’s fourth addition of the summer last week, and at 34, is the oldest player Nathan Jones has signed since bringing in Alan McCormack back in June 2017.

Jerome has been tasked with helping aid the development of fellow striker Elijah Adebayo, and although it’s a role he’s happy to take on, when asked about his own ambitions at Kenilworth Road, he said: “I want to play every week and if I’m not playing every week I’m not happy.

“At this age you’ve got to understand it’s horses for courses, different games for different players.

“With how the team play, fast, dynamic, press from the front, all those sort of things, as a player it’s impossible with the speed of the game to play every game.

“It’s a long season, 46 games, so I’m sure I’ll be used as and when the manager sees fit, but first and foremost, I’m here to play.

“Secondly, with my age and my experience, and what else I bring off the pitch, it’s to help some of the younger players as well.

“So that will be a key factor which I’m looking forward to as I had it as a young player.

“I had older pros throughout my career guiding me and helping me through things, so if there’s anything I can do to help the players I certainly will be doing it.”

On just who helped him through the early days of his career, Jerome, who began as a teenager at Cardiff City and then went to Birmingham for £3m when still aged just 19, continued: "When I was at Cardiff, I had the likes of Pete Thorne, Alan Lee, Richard Langley, there was a core group of senior players, Graham Kavanagh.

"They took me under their wing at the time as a young lad breaking into the first team, helped me through things and took me out of the firing line, took the bullets for me when certain things didn’t go right to start with.

"So that made me the person I am today, the mentoring that the older pros did back then, it helped me focus on football.

"There’s been times where even at Birmingham where I had the likes of Kevin Phillips, Marcus Bent, Lee Carsley, those sort of players coming in when we were in the Championship.

"It was massive to the group, we had a really young group at the time and those senior figures around the place, to see how they dedicated themselves, how they trained and the little things, were things you could pick up and learn as you progress."

With Luton losing top scorer James Collins to Cardiff City and Danny Hylton at 32, in the latter stages of his career, it will be Adebayo who learns the most from a player like Jerome who has featured in the top flight during his 18-years as a professional.

He hit the ground running with five goals in 18 outings following a move from League Two Walsall in February and on how he can help with his new team-mate’s progression, Jerome said: “I’ll be there to push him and compete with him first and foremost.

“Also on and off the pitch, I’ll be there if he wants anything to ask and learn.

“I’m sure he will be looking at me thinking ‘he is a similar style of player, he has had the career he’s had but what can I pick up on?’

“Hopefully he is open to learning and improving, obviously with the coaching staff and the gaffer, he is really about improving players.

“He is so passionate about improving players and the conversation was the same with me.

“I still feel I can improve here and that is something you look at, you see 34 and you think ‘can you?’

“That is something that excites you, the manager wants to get the best out of you.

“With the younger players, it is an opportunity for one or two of them to learn from the older pros and enhance their career.

“He has made the step up from Walsall since January, coming in to score five goals and taken to the Championship like a duck to water.

“Hopefully he can have a good pre-season and is going to be someone the team will look at and rely on to progress and to kick on."

The fact that Jerome proved last term he is still more than capable on the field as well as off it, scoring 15 goals in 38 appearances for MK Dons, was a defining reason in why the striker felt Jones was keen to bring him into the club as well this summer.

He added: "The manager has outlined that he wants competition in various positions in the squad and the centre-forward role, having lost James Collins.

"It was one they were looking to fill so with the players they have got there, the younger potential with some of the younger forwards they have at the football club, it was an opportunity to get an experienced player in, who can still perform at the level but also can push and compete with the other players they have got at the club.

"It also helps guide them, for them to have someone to look up to and learn off.

"I would like to think that was one of the other factors of the club recruiting someone of my age and my ability.

"You see in football nowadays, the recruitment process and what clubs are trying to do, they are not really trying to fill the squad with experienced players.

"One or two in the right positions help them and guide the younger players along but football has become a business and players are bigger commodities nowadays, with the buying and selling and making profit from younger players.

"Getting an older, experienced player who has been there and done that but someone who can still perform and contribute is the main reason I guess.”