It’s been a frustrating season for Curtis Jones.
Jones has suffered a string of injuries that’s stalled his momentum at Liverpool, leading some of the club’s supporters to question whether the midfielder has a future at Anfield.
“When I’ve been injured, it’s been like a freak one,” he said in October.
“I was poked in the eye last season and out for six weeks, and this season I had a stress response in the bone. I was out for four weeks, I came back and trained twice, felt it again and was out for another six.
“It was a difficult time, but now I’m back I’m happy and I have a point to prove.”
Without a goal or assist for the Reds this season, it was a minor surprise to see Jones included in the latest England U21 squad. But it wasn’t too surprising to see the youngster on the bench as the cream of France’s young talent arrived in Leicester for a prestigious friendly.
After coming on as a 66th-minute replacement for Cameron Archer, Jones netted his country’s third goal in eye-catching fashion as the French players could be seen praying for the first flight home.
Noni Madueke, making the most of his day release from Chelsea, sped past a hapless defender and whipped in a cross that was practically begging to be tucked away.
Jones had the honour of doing so; timing his run to perfection, the 22-year-old produced the most absurd of backheels in a gloriously elaborate way of dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s.
Curtis Jones 🔥 pic.twitter.com/oFXff2qthv
— The Anfield Talk (@TheAnfieldTalk) March 25, 2023
“For the first 35 minutes I didn’t think we were very good, we handed the momentum to them too many times,” said Lee Carsley after the match.
“When you’re trying to get into the game and impose yourself on the opposition, I didn’t think we helped ourselves by making basic errors.
“We’re trying to create players that play as a team, and we showed good spirit in that patch, making some really good blocks and tracking runners, doing all the basics that you need to do.
“I think it was really important that we weathered that bit of play because you’re not always going to be perfect.
“The most pleasing thing was the last ten minutes because we got a real grip of the game and the confidence was there.
“That would’ve been the first time that eleven played together, one of the challenges of this role is every game is like a pre-season match, they got better as the game went on and we finished really strong.”
Jones’ ridiculous backheel was his fourth goal in 13 caps for England at under-21 level, which it’ll give him a welcome confidence boost in a season where he’s been sparsely involved for his club.
He’s started only once in the Premier League this term, featuring for a mere 20 minutes across three late substitute appearances since the turn of the year.
But his international silliness was a reminder that he’s a player worth perserving with.
By Michael Lee