Confidence and momentum are key components for any young player’s game, and Southampton B team’s 16-year-old starlet Jimmy-Jay Morgan is brimming with both at the moment...
After taking home the match ball with a hat-trick in Monday evening’s 4-0 win against Birmingham City, Morgan is firmly in the midst of his best-ever form with seven goals in his last three games for Dave Horseman’s side.
As a key figure in the B team’s forward line this season, it’s remarkable to remember that at his age - he will only just turn 17 at the end of January - the in-form youngster is playing up several age groups every time he features in Premier League 2 against other Under-21 sides.
Morgan is not alone in the youthful B team cohort, as several of last season’s Under-18s Premier League South title-winning side have also made the step up the age groups; Dom Ballard (17), Kamari Doyle (17), Cameron Bragg (17), Lewis Payne (18), and Ryan Finnigan (19) have all featured heavily whilst still being in their teenage years.
But, after a month that has seen him score ten goals across three domestic and international competitions, Morgan is certainly establishing himself as one to watch.
“The feeling in the squad is amazing right now, we’re all behind each other and we’re all behind Dave and we all back each other,” said Morgan: “We know we’ve got unbelievable players in the dressing room so we all back each other.
“Momentum is building, it has been for a while. We believe in what we do and if we get the reactions and everything else right then the football takes care of itself because we’ve got top-quality players.”
Saints’ youngster has provided a glowing account of his performances in recent post-match interviews, speaking like a player who knows that he’s on top of his game and intends to keep it that way.
“I’ve come into a good vein of form now I’m scoring and I just want to keep doing it really, that’s all I can do and hopefully keep scoring to help the team get three points.
“There are not many players my age playing Under-23s football this early in the season, and I think that trust and having that belief from the coaching staff gives me opportunities to score as many goals as possible.”
His self-described rich vein of form has not been limited to his club side, however, as he was one of three Saints youngsters who shone on the international stage during England’s UEFA European Under-17s Championship qualifying.
Joined by Tyler Dibling and Jayden Meghoma, who have both also played up the age groups for Southampton B team this season, the trio helped England top their qualification group in Tbilisi, Georgia.
Morgan started the 3-1 win over Lithuania in the opening group game, before bursting into life in front of goal in the remaining two fixtures.
In a 6-2 rout against group hosts Georgia, a goal in each half gave the Saints striker a brace as his club teammate Dibling also registered two goals of his own.
Then, with England needing at least a draw to progress from the final group game, Morgan was introduced off the bench and scored a vital, late equaliser against Israel to ensure the Young Lions’ passage to the next qualifying round.
“I really enjoyed it [with England], we were playing somewhere that I wouldn’t go out of choice so it was hard to adjust to the time difference and the different culture, but we came away top of the group and I got three goals so I’m really happy with how I did.
“It’s amazing, playing different styles of play for different managers at different levels of physicality is good to be able to chop and change so when I go back down to my own age group I can see the benefits.”
Back on home shores before the international break, Morgan was even on target in his first experience of the South Coast Derby during the Hampshire Senior Cup trip to Portsmouth.
Despite the result for Saints’ youngsters against a side with several League One players featuring at Fratton Park, he scored another brace in a game that provided a unique learning experience.
“To score in front of the Saints fans, but especially in a derby where I know how much it means to them, and to us as well, when they come in their numbers like that, it’s just amazing.
“We have a really young squad so the earlier we get [the experience] the better, playing in front of fans and in stadiums every week is just a dream opportunity for all of us.
“I love the senior games, playing against experienced players gives me the opportunity to learn new things and become more of a professional early on really.”
The senior experience hasn’t ended there for the 16-year-old, who earned a taste of what could come with a call-up to the first team squad against Sheffield Wednesday in the Carabao Cup.
With eyes on him from the top, Morgan must now just continue to do what he’s done best in recent weeks; maintaining the momentum and self-belief on and off the pitch is key as, in his words after his maiden B team hat-trick, the football will take care of itself.
“Confidence is a massive thing for me, especially for strikers. The whole team is flooding with confidence right now and we go into every game expecting to win.
“I’ve just got to keep it going for as long as possible really to see where it gets me.”