Football/Soccer

New Ranger Jordan Jones happy to get playing again with Northern Ireland

Jordan Jones has looked lively for Northern Ireland in the Euro 2020 qualifiers so far. Photo Desmond Loughery/Pacemaker
Kenny Archer in Minsk

AFTER months of frustration, Jordan Jones could cope with more waiting – but then he burst from the Northern Ireland bench to great effect.

The new Rangers man was effectively ‘frozen out' by his then Kilmarnock boss Steve Clarke towards the end of the club campaign but he was on fire in the heat of Tallinn on Saturday evening.

Jones accepted Michael O'Neill's decision to hand Gavin Whyte a first competitive start instead of keeping him in the team to take on Estonia, commenting:

“Yeah, obviously everyone who comes away wants to start but Michael made the decision – I haven't played a lot of games in the last two months, so I could understand why I wasn't playing.

“It was up to me to come on and make a difference, along with the other subs; that's what we've done and the main thing is that we got the result, so everyone's happy.”

The direct running of Jones on the left flank complemented the wide threat from Whyte on the right and increased the visitors' chances of equalising:

“Yeah, Gavin any myself are similar players, we both try to be really positive when we get the ball. I suppose it was easier for me to see from the sideline that the game was flat and needed a bit of positivity, a spark. That's what I try to bring and thankfully we got the three points.”

Jones came on for right-back Michael Smith, with Stuart Dallas switching back there from left wing, and the 24-year-old was pleased to help fire NI to victory:

“For 50, 60 minutes the game was a bit flat, conditions played a big part in that, it was boiling out there, boiling inside the stadium, it was hard to cool down.

“The boys dug really deep – one thing you'll never be able to question about this team is the spirit and the character we've got. We showed that again and we look forward now to Belarus.”

Post-match, the players were clearly tired, but minds can influence bodies, Jones pointed out with a laugh: “[the changing room] was far from bouncing: mentally we're all happy but physically we were quite drained, so it's about recovery.”

The approach remains the same - 12 points from the first four matches has always been the aim:

“Yeah, we came out for the away games the same way we approached the home games, to get two wins. We've got one and now we want to get the next one on Tuesday.”

As for himself, he's looking forward to playing regularly with Rangers, and showing what he can do in light blue:

“It was obviously just a bit of a disappointing the way my time ended at the club [Kilmarnock] because I have a lot of love for the club for what they've done for me. But that's football, that's the way it finished up.

“I'll concentrate on the national team now and then join up with Rangers, which I'm really looking forward to, I can't wait for it. It's a positive time”.

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