Birmingham City boss Lee Bowyer has hailed the instant impact that Jonathan Leko has has upon his loan return to Charlton Athletic.

Leko, 22, returned to Charlton Athletic on a season-long loan during the summer transfer window just gone.

The former West Brom youngster spent time on loan with the Addicks during the 2019/20 Championship season when Bowyer was in charge, scoring five goals in his 21 Championship outings.

He then signed for Birmingham City last summer but in 29 Championship appearances to date for Blues, Leko is yet to find the back of the net.

But coming on at half-time in Charlton’s weekend loss v Cheltenham Town, Leko scored within 15 minutes of coming onto the pitch.

Speaking to Birmingham Live, Bowyer said of the striker:

“I am delighted for Jonathan, that was the whole point of it. I know he knows the place, in his comfort zone if you like. He is going somewhere where he was loved and for him to go there and score on his debut is great.

“I want him to go and get the minutes under his belt, improve and get back to the player I know he is. But for him staying here it would have been difficult to get minutes.

“He needed to go and play, and hopefully he carries on from the weekend and keeps scoring goals for Charlton.”

Leko has often split opinion since joining Birmingham City. He’s obviously a player with great potential and solid attributes for a forward, but the goals just weren’t there for him last season.

“You have to remember he is a young lad, he is only young – and he had a bad injury, he had a tough, tough time,” Bowyer continued. “To come to Birmingham, a new club, new players, got to adapt, after a bad injury it takes time.

“Unfortunately for him last season didn’t work out as he would have liked but I put that down to his injury. Mentally and physically it can affect you.”

Leko’s Charlton resurrection?

Often with players of Leko’s age, who find themselves in between clubs and struggling to settle down, it takes just one season playing in a lower division to get the ball rolling.

Leko is in the third loan spell of his career so far but a debut goal on his return to Charlton will give him so much confidence going into what looks to be a tough season for the Addicks, and manager Nigel Adkins will no doubt have Leko in mind for a starting spot now.

Up next for them is a trip to Wycombe Wanderers this weekend.