Youngster Jenk Acar is back from an impressive loan spell at Spalding. The first year professional has earned rave reviews from both officials of the Tulips and the local media, but he hasn’t come back to stagnate in the reserves.
Acar is 18 years old, a Lincoln lad with a Turkish father who was also a professional footballer. His Dad turned out for Turkish side Karşıyaka, and Jenk is following in his father’s footsteps by taking up the game professionally. He told me how he’s always been a football fanatic, and has been at Lincoln throughout his youth.
“I’ve played football since I could walk really. I played for local teams before moving to the Lincoln City academy at the age of 13. I started out as a holding midfielder but I have gradually moved higher up the pitch playing more as a striker or a winger. I would say my preferred position would be on either wings.”
Acar signed his first pro contract in the summer of 2016, and by then he’d caught the eye of a host of other sides. Like many of our first team players it was a member of staff that helped convince him to sign for City. However, it wasn’t Danny Cowley that convinced him to stay, but a coach he’d worked with for a while.
“I verbally got offered a pro contract before I hit sixteen. This was because I was going on trial at a lot of other clubs but Lincoln wanted to keep me. I decided to stay at Lincoln because of the relationship I had with Damian Froggatt. He was also pushing me to play at a higher level. He would constantly believe in me and play me in the youth team squad as an under 16, which was great for my development. When I officially signed my contract in May it was very overwhelming and it was a dream come true.”
Of course it was around that time that Danny and Nicky arrived at the club, and soon a loan spell with Spalding beckoned. It wasn’t a case of ‘out of sight, out of mind’ though, as you can imagine with the management team they were very interested in their young players development.
“I was still training at Lincoln so I was always in Danny’s mind. The gaffer would always ask me how I did after every game. Nick would also watch the highlights back and give me feedback.”
I’m sure it will come as no surprise to know that Nicky even watches the highlights of the loan players matches. No stoned left unturned, no potential left untapped and no chance of a player being wasted. As it turned out the highlights of the games were well worth a watch. Jenk hit 11 goals in 23 appearances as Spalding mounted a promotion challenge.
“I really enjoyed my time at Spalding, I got on really well with the lads and the manager which made me feel at ease . I played pretty much every game whilst I was there which was really good for my development. All my goals came from out wide.”
11 goals from the wide positions, it all sounds very ‘Nathan Arnold’ from where I’m sat. It is clear that Jenk is highly rated not only at Lincoln, but also at Spalding where he got those regular first team games under the watchful eye of Dave Frecklington, a man well known in the local football scene and used to nurturing and developing young talent.
So what next for the youngster? Despite his promise it would be incredibly hard to force his way into the first team picture, and in order to develop he needs games.
“I’m in the process of sorting out another loan move. it’s important for me that I play at least 35 games so I can keep improving. I also want to keep adding goals to my game and if I reach 15 for the season I’d be extremely happy with that.”
In my brief chat with Jenk I found him articulate and grounded. Although he’s been out on loan his desire for more games and goals really echoed the attitude that Danny and Nicky have towards the young players. He hasn’t come back with illusions of forcing his way into the first team immediately, rather he has a desire to learn and improve, to progress through hard work and putting in the hours. I like that, and I’m sure Danny and Nicky feel the same.
You may not see Jenk Acar in a Lincoln shirt just yet, but another loan spell scoring goals from out wide in a successful non-league team will certainly give him a good basis on which to stake a claim in the future. Remember the name.