Ayoub Assal says that he can’t wait to play in front of our supporters at Plough Lane after striking his first goal at our new stadium on Saturday.
The 19-year-old has exploded onto the first-team scene with several dynamic attacking displays – and four goals along the way – but scoring versus Swindon was a landmark strike for a player who came through our academy.
Speaking ahead of tonight's match versus Oxford (7.00 pm kick-off), Ayoub said: “I can’t wait to see the fans at Plough Lane watching us play, so that we can make them happy again," said Ayoub. "There’s not long left until that happens. For me to get my first goal at Plough Lane was a great experience for me. Now the only thing missing is the fans and to be celebrating with them. That should be coming very soon.
“It has been very exciting, fast tempo football. We have been moving the ball quickly, getting forward quickly, and it’s really enjoyable to play in this team. The focus is 80 per cent on us and 20 per cent on the opposition.
“I could have had a hat-trick at the weekend and the Ipswich game I could have had another one! I am working with the coaching staff to get more goals. I am working on finishing drills to help me get more and more. I am working towards a target of how many goals I want to get and hopefully I will get there. I think there’s still a lot more I can improve upon. I would say that my weaker foot needs improvement, my off the ball work, and knowing where I need to be in terms of positioning. There’s still a lot more that I can work on."
Brought up in Deptford, South East London, Ayoub is eligible to play for Morocco with both of his parents born in the African country. He is hoping to gain senior international honours after gaining experience at a Morocco Under-20 camp earlier this season. With Ayoub having made great progress at club and international level, he’s grateful to our academy and Mark Robinson for the guidance he has received.
“From a young age in the academy a big emphasis is put on strengthening the weaker foot of players. The coaches have really helped me and a lot of other young players coming through. Some of the lads are still here from when I first joined, including Archie (Procter), JC (Jack Currie) and ‘Meds’ (Jack Madelin), plus a couple more. It’s great for them to still be here and for me to be training with them every day.
“I’ve been working with Robbo for a few years now. He was my Under-18s manager and he knows my strengths and weaknesses. He’s a great manager to work with. As an individual, I trust my ability, and I know what I can do on the pitch. It helps a lot that I’ve been given the opportunity by Robbo to show what I can do on the pitch.”