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'I have had a lease of life' Lukas Jutkiewicz on his Birmingham City career

Birmingham Mail logo Birmingham Mail 12/10/2018 Brian Dick
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Lukas Jutkiewicz credits Garry Monk with lifting his Birmingham City career out of the doldrums.

The striker scored his first senior hat-trick in Saturday’s 3-1 victory over Rotherham and turned in a display for which he has won countless plaudits.

He has now scored six times so far this term - more than in the whole of last season - and has established himself as the keystone around which Monk’s Blues are built.

But that wasn’t always the case, after being brought in from Burnley by Gary Rowett, the 29-year-old became starved of opportunities or struggled for form under the managers that followed.

Things are going much better now, though.

a football player on a field © Provided by Trinity Mirror Shared Services Limited

“You never want to get carried away but since the manager has come in I have had a lease of life mentally,” Jutkiewicz told BirminghamLive.

“I feel in a team that is playing to my strengths and it’s something I am relishing.

“Getting game time is the most important thing, then you feel fit and sharp. Then the confidence comes with that.

“I am ever so thankful to the manager and the staff since they have come in because to be frank it wasn’t going too great - personally and as a team.

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“I have got a massive debt to him for coming in and almost reviving my Birmingham career.

“The first six months was lovely, then the next year was tough, it’s been a club in a lot of transition in the last 18 months, almost two years now.

“You are just hopeful there will be a bit of stability, we can get behind this manager and make sure we are pushing the club in the right direction.”

a group of people playing football in front of a crowd © Provided by Trinity Mirror Shared Services Limited

While things remain uncertain off the pitch, with transfer restrictions and the threat of a points deduction hanging over the club, Jutkiewicz spearheads a team that is functioning as well as at any time since Rowett was sacked in December 2016.

And he takes some stick from defenders too, Saturday being a case in point when he needed three stitches at half time and played the second period with a head bandage.

“It does get harder, you have to look after your body, I am still in my 20s! But the way that I play is certainly physical and takes its toll on your body, it’s important I have started to recognise that.

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“I need to look after my body between games more so than I would have had to when I was younger, you just have to modify what you are doing.

“A lot of ice baths, just to take the inflammation out, contrast bathing to flush the body. I will take any advantage I can get because you do take a bit of a bettering in this league.

“I don’t think you are ever one hundred per cent fit, particularly the position I play in - and when we play midweek games, you have always got bumps and bruises and things like that.

“Once the adrenalin takes over it gets put to the back of the mind, it’s the evening and the following morning when you wake up you feel it a little bit more.

“You have to manage it a little bit in training. I used to try and train like I played but when there’s three games a week you can’t.

“You would have to ask the centre halves but I am sure I have left an accidental elbow on them now and then!”

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Jutkiewicz has scored five times in his last three games but his value to the team isn’t only measured by the scoresheet.

“It’s lovely to have a good reception from the fans like I did on Saturday and that means a hell of a lot to me.

“The fact your team-mates and staff are happy with what you are doing is the most important thing.

a man in a blue uniform holding a ball © Provided by Trinity Mirror Shared Services Limited

“I have always wanted to work hard on a football pitch and come off knowing I have couldn’t have done any more or given more of myself, otherwise I don’t feel I can look in the mirror.

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“Whether that translates to goals or whether that translates to being physical, getting the team up the pitch and doing the dirty bits - I try to do a bit of both.

“Ultimately I know as a centre forward you are going to be judged for the amount of goals you score - that’s just the way football is.”

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