Before this busy festive period ahead of us, Ben Summer and Sam Taylor had a chat with new Rangers number nine Lyndon Dykes.
The full video interview is available at https://youtu.be/W5Cup4Muz8E
“It’s obviously been hard, not really going our way. I’m moving to the Championship, it’s where I wanted to be, obviously I am happy with getting a few goals but there’s always room for improvement. I’m working every day to be the best I can, and this is new to me, but I’m trying to do my best. There’s a lot more to come”
If this happened to be the first you’d heard of Lyndon Dykes, his words might give the impression that he is a solemn, workmanlike character. Far from it – even over a Zoom interview, it’s clear that despite his strong work ethic, he’s as breezy as it gets. “I’d like to say that I’m confident,” he admits, “and that I breed that confidence into my team.” The newly capped international is talking about his Scotland team, but he didn’t see much of a distinction between his domestic and international game when prompted on it: “I don’t think so, I’m just trying to do my best every game. I want to put my heart on my sleeve and fight for all my teammates and the supporters as well. Hopefully my best is good enough.”
It’s been quite the year for the 25-year-old striker, after securing a move from Scottish Premiership outfit Livingston to QPR and instantly rising through the ranks of Steve Clarke’s Scotland side as it ascended to the Euros for the first time in 20 years.
Back in London after the recent international breaks, however, things are going less swimmingly with QPR sitting only four points clear of the drop. Dykes isn’t worried, though. Despite swelling rumours about manager Mark Warburton’s future at the club, “the morale is good” according to the striker, and “as long as we keep fighting I’m sure we’ll be fine.” When asked about Warburton’s signature style of play, leaving the team defensively vulnerable, “it’s just one of those things… we’ve got a lot of flair players and QPR have always had those flair players, as long as you’re scoring goals and not conceding more than you score then you’re fine.”
Despite maintaining a cool front on the team’s overall fortunes, Dykes does admit that “it is relentless playing every week. With internationals as well it’s been just game after game, and with midweek games you can’t train as much.” This follows recent comments by the manager that Dykes has not been able to train a full session alongside fellow striker Macauley Bonne. “Sometimes you just automatically get that link-up and it doesn’t really matter about training,” he notes, but “I think we can do great together, we haven’t played much as a two but it comes with time.
On whether a strike partnership is part of Dykes’ preferred formation, rather than the lone target man role, Dykes is characteristically “easy” (in his own words). “Depending on what the manager wants, I’m quite versatile. I used to play a number 10 role, but went into last season more as a number 9, as that focal point. I can play either.” However, he does admit that “It’s always good to have a link-up, up top.”
Dykes’ style of play can be summed up by his reply when asked about whether his background in Australian Rugby League influences his football game: “If some players want to be like that, it’s fine by me as long as I don’t get red cards!” Dykes credits his entry into men’s football at age 15 – “it helps you toughen up, playing with men who are going to get into you and be tough. I think not going through academies sometimes helps players – they can be taught into certain things and it takes away their natural ability or flair.” This stands out against Warburton’s side, in which players like Luke Amos and Chris Willock are often credited by the manager for skills developed in their academy education.
On his other teammates? Ex-Spurs and Swansea midfielder Tom Carroll is “a prankster – he starts it off, but nobody knows it’s him. Secret assassin.” Meanwhile, the player he would least want to be one-on-one with is defender Rob Dickie, for the refreshingly frank reason that “he’s a big lump and he’ll come flying in.” Finally, when asked if his missile-like penalties are the best at the club? A simple “yeah.”
YES SIR, HE CAN BOOGIE
When asked about Scotland’s game against Serbia, which sent them to the European Championships (and would not have required extra time if Andy Robertson had finished off a gilt-edged chance set up by Dykes, widely noted as a standout performer that night), Dykes admits he “got to bed about 4, 5 in the morning,” on what was “an amazing night for everyone, definitely a night I’ll remember for the rest of my career and my life.”
The night could have been a very different one, however, if Lyndon had not chosen Scotland over Australia. Born and raised ‘down under,’ but with Scottish parents and heritage (and a son born in Scotland), Dykes’ decision was “definitely a hard one.” When quizzed on the process of deciding, he replies that his Scottish family “gave me the chance to have my football career – I wanted to give something back to them. I went with my gut, my heart, a little bit, and I didn’t look back.”
Two competing international managers had Dykes’ phone ringing off the hook. He recalls: “[Livingston] played Celtic and the [Scotland] assistant manager came and met me the next day. I had a meeting with him, and the Australia manager Graham Arnold was in contact with me a lot, ringing me, asking what my thoughts were. Then I spoke to Steve Clarke at Scotland. At the end of it, it comes down to a personal choice.” He is happy to admit that “Australia could’ve been the easier route for World Cups and major tournaments, but I wanted to work hard and was confident in the Scotland team. It was the right choice and hopefully I’ll have a great international career.”
‘R’ Generation spoke to The Tartan Scarf, a Scotland fan site, who posited a theory that Dykes brings an enthusiasm to the national team that is unfettered by the disappointment that the other players will have suffered growing up in Scotland and watching the team in the past 20 years. Dykes agrees that this helped him, but that “it also helped being a new face. I just sort of popped up out of nowhere, came into the setup. There were a couple of other new faces, it just lifted the boys a little bit. I just kind of fit straight into the way they wanted to play.”
MAN AT WORK
Dykes evidently seems keen to get his head down and improve. His advice for young players following in his footsteps: “Only a few years ago I was working full-time in a factory and just playing for fun, now I’m here and playing internationals. I’m at a massive club like QPR.”
“If anyone out there is having knockbacks, isn’t in academies, or doesn’t have enough money to be in an academy, you’ve just got to keep working hard. Sometimes you need a bit of luck but sometimes it’s down to your determination. Once you get an opportunity, you have to take it with both hands.”
We thank Lyndon for taking the time to talk to us and to the club for arranging the meeting on his behalf.
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