The striker joined ATK from East Bengal in the summer transfer window.

Very few clubs have been as rampant as a certain ATK when it comes to signings this transfer season. The Indian Super League outfit from Kolkata have invaded Oceania, bringing in Dario Vidosic from Melbourne City FC, along with David Williams and Roy Krishna from Wellington Phoenix. 

In spite of these signings, if there’s one player who’s making all the right noises at the Salt Lake Stadium, it’s a known face who sizzled in the Red and Gold’s jersey last season, Jobby Justin. The Kerala-born striker scored 11 times last season in the I-league and then made the switch to his new employers. 

Justin has since made his national team debut as well, but didn’t do anything significant. Known as a player who works best in a two-striker system and feeds off that extra bit of space, he will look to impress Antonio Lopez Habas from the word go. But, will he get enough chances to make the #9 position his own? 

By the look of it, the chances are bleak. With Williams and Krishna operating at a higher level, they will take the first shot at the role. The Fijian has played in the wing-forward position in the past and may be moved to the left to have a more creative role in the team, but Williams still looks favourite to start. 

Habas loves the 4-2-3-1 system and there’s no reason he would ditch it now. The Spaniard has used his favoured style to lift the title in the first season and would want to repeat the feat on his comeback. With Carl McHugh almost certain to feature in the double-pivot in defensive midfield with Pronay Halder, numbers too will play an integral part in the system. 

In the attacking quartet, the 62-year-old manager will be forced to play an Indian, given he plays John Johnson or new signing Agus Garcia in the defensive half of the pitch. The team will also have to make space for McHugh, giving Habas just three more positions for foreigners. With former FC Goa midfielder Manuel Lanzarote leaving, it eases some pressure on the tactician, who’s spoilt for choices in the attacking half of the pitch. 

Creating the right balance is important and Justin could be a very important piece of the jigsaw. The Kerala lad, though, will have to hit the ground running. He’ll get a lot of opportunities, tap-ins or even rebounds from shots from distance that Vidosic, Javi Hernandez and Krishna are almost certain to attempt.

The team will also see a lot of through-balls, something that will add a lot of options to Justin’s plate, if and when he plays. At the beginning, he can be expected to get late entries into the game as a substitute, but that will be his litmus test to make his mark for a role in the starting XI. Will he take the opportunity with both hands, or will Komal Thatal or Jayesh Rane play a part in the top four? We’ll have to wait and see.