Travelling man Lukas Jutkiewicz feels at home with Bolton Wanderers
IF there is one player at Wanderers who will quickly move on from the disappointment of a missed penalty at the weekend, it is loan striker Lukas Jutkiewicz.
Still only 24 years old, the forward has proved he has the ‘bouncebackability’ several times in his fledgling career.
Released as a schoolboy by boyhood club Southampton, Jutkiewicz kick-started his career at Swindon and earned a move to the Premier League with Everton.
That switch did not go exactly to plan and the youngster took the brave decision to leave Goodison Park and start again at Coventry.
A big-money move to Middlesbrough came next but injuries again hampered his progression.
Never one to let his head drop, though, Jutkiewicz hopes his move to Wanderers last month can be beneficial to both himself and the Whites.
Aside from that squandered spot-kick at Millwall, two goals in his last three matches has been encouraging.
And he can call on his previous experiences to focus on the positives.
Jutkiewicz said: “It was an easy decision to join Bolton and I’m relishing showing the fans what I can do.
“It’s been a bit of a mixed bag at Middlesbrough.
“When I joined them on loan, I had a really good time but when I had my first full season last year, it was the first time in my career that I’ve really struggled with injuries.
“When I was playing regularly I did score quite a few goals, but I struggled for consistency because of the injuries I’d picked up which was frustrating.
“It’s a great opportunity for me at Bolton now. As soon as the chance came up, I felt like it was the right move for me to make.
“It’s a different challenge but it’s one I’m looking forward to.
“It has been a regular thing for me in my career so far.
“It was hard to take it when I got released by Southampton at 14, but I just stayed involved in football by playing locally again until I finished school a couple of years later and I signed for Swindon.
“I was, ironically, playing against them in a schoolboy game when they scouted me, and they brought me to the club when I was just 16.
“That was a successful time. I was lucky enough to be drafted into the first team just before my 17th birthday and I made my debut soon after before going on to spend the rest of my time there in the first-team squad.
“I played quite a few games and we even got promoted from League Two but shortly after I was picked up by Everton.
“Everton was a great experience but perhaps it was a little too soon in hindsight.
“I was 17 when I signed for them and moved up there when I was 18 – it was an amazing experience to train with top-class players every day, but a lot of my time there was spent out on loan.
“I was in and around the first-team and managed to make a Premier League appearance against Sunderland, but I just felt like I needed to get out there and get games under my belt in a bid to develop myself as a player.
“It might not have been what I wanted it to be, but it was a learning experience that has stood me in good stead throughout my career.
“I’d just decided it was important at my age to build on the experiences I’d had and move on.
“It’s all part and parcel of the game, though nothing is easy, but it’s all worth it when you make it in the end.”
Jutkiewicz hopes Wanderers could provide him with a stable home after something of a nomadic career since leaving behind young team-mates like Gareth Bale and Theo Walcott at the Southampton academy.
From Plymouth in the South West to the North East and Middlesbrough; from Motherwell in Scotland to Coventry in the Midlands – loan ranger Jutkiewicz is back in the North West on a mission to do his bit for Wanderers.
He added: “Throughout my career, I think I’ve spent time in all four corners of the UK.
“It has been a good thing for me, though – I’ve lived away from home since I was 16, so you have to grow up a little bit and develop yourself.
“When I knew I was going out on loan last month, there were a few other clubs that made enquiries for me.
“But once I’d spoken to the manager here, my mind was made up.
“I felt wanted and valued and he sold the club to me really well.
“I had already played against Bolton when Middlesbrough visited the Reebok on New Year’s Day and from that experience, I knew I was coming into a team that has a lot of quality.
“I just want to help Bolton climb the table.
“Middlesbrough were in a similar position to them at the start of the season but they had a great run and shot up the league.
“It just shows how tight it is and it’s proof that if you string a few results together what a difference it makes and hopefully, I can help Bolton do that this season.”