I still have a lot to offer, insists Accrington Stanley new boy Jeffers
HE may not like being called ‘the fox in the box’, but Francis Jeffers is determined to show he still has plenty to offer and help keep Accrington Stanley in the Football League – with Edgar Davids’ Barnet in town for a crunch match tomorrow.
Jeffers’ Stanley career has got off to a difficult start as the former £8m man was unable to stop the Reds losing 2-0 at Northampton on Saturday and 3-0 at home to Fleetwood three days later, as they slipped to bottom of the table.
The first of those appearances came from the bench and the 32-year-old admits he still needs time to build up match fitness, having been without a club for five months after leaving Maltese side Floriana.
Jeffers has had links with Stanley for many years, regularly attending matches to support former Reds stars and fellow Liverpudlians Gary Roberts and Ian Craney, and also linked up for training during John Coleman’s time in charge.
He was due to sign for Rochdale in January before Coleman and assistant Jimmy Bell were sacked, but admits he always thought he would join Stanley one day and wants to show he still has mileage left on the clock.
“When you’re not at a club you have a lot of thinking, a lot of watching football, and I’ve still got a fair bit to offer, I know that,” Jeffers said.
“When you feel like you’ve got loads left in the tank, it’s frustrating.
“I was going to sign for them until Coley and Jimmy lost their jobs there, it left me in no man’s land a little bit.
“But the gaffer here got in touch with me and asked if I’d be interested, and I said yes. I’ve got a connection with Accrington. I came here for five or six games a season and I know the club fairly well.
“It’s about me getting some football but more importantly it’s about Accrington staying up.
“If come the end of the season I’ve played my part in Accrington staying up, it will be a decent achievement on my CV and we’ll re-evaluate it then.”
Jeffers made his name as a teenager at Everton before being tagged ‘the fox in the box’ by Arsene Wenger after his big money move to Arsenal in 2001.
It was a transfer that did not work out but he has had to reluctantly shoulder the tag at the 11 clubs he has represented since then, including Blackburn Rovers.
“I’m not too keen on it but I can’t help what people say,” he said.
“When you get issued with that, people tend to forget you’re a decent footballer. You tend to get labelled with just being in the box and poaching goals.
“That has never been what I’m all about. It’s not like I just stay in the box and don’t move.
“I can actually play a bit as well!”
Rarely has a League Two basement battle had such all-star quality as Stanley’s fixture against Barnet tomorrow, which comes three days before fellow relegation candidates Wimbledon visit the Store First Stadium.
Former Holland star Davids, 40, is Barnet’s player manager and will face a Stanley side including two ex-England internationals – with Jeffers likely to again partner James Beattie up front.
“It’s a strange one, isn’t it?” Jeffers said. “What a player Edgar Davids has been, and it’s always good to share a pitch with world class footballers like that.
“But it’s important we do a number on them.
“If the expectation falls on me and Beatts here then we have to deal with it, because it will perhaps take a bit of pressure off the other lads.
“But it’s not just about me and him, we’re just two players in a 24-man squad.
“It’s not all about goals for me, it’s about playing your part in performances and working hard for the lads.
“Games are running out now and without putting too much pressure on us we need to win the next two games. They’re vitally important.”