Following the arrival of Jordan Jones, we caught up with Nial Coulter from the Northern Irish Fanzine Happy Days to find out all there is to know about the Boro born Norn Iron international…
It was never my intention to become an ALS regular, here we are again. Three weeks after the signing of Carl Winchester, Sunderland have moved to sign another Northern Ireland international, Jordan Jones. The winger joins on loan from Rangers until the end of the season.
Whilst I commented that the signing of Winchester was more about bringing leadership and experience to the midfield, the signing of Jones is one that will fans will look to more with anticipation.
Jordan was born in Redcar and came through the ranks at Middlesbrough. He didn’t manage any league appearances for The Smoggies and made only a solitary FA Cup appearance during his four years on Teesside. Loan spells at Hartlepool and Cambridge (both in League Two at the time) followed but Jones was released in the summer of 2016.
Jones, whose dad is from Belfast, had by this time earned a number of caps for the Northern Ireland under 19s. Despite not being in the Boro first team, he rejected a call-up to the Northern Ireland under 21s as he wanted to keep his international options open, believing that the positive press he was receiving could lead to a call from the England under 21s. It never came.
Fast forward to May 2017; Jones has just completed a decent season with Kilmarnock in the Scottish Premiership, having been signed on a free by Lee Clark after his release by Boro. It came as a bit of a surprise when then-Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill called Jones up to the senior squad’s summer training camp. Whilst Jones didn’t make the cut for the next squad, it was positive that the winger would finally be donning the green shirt. Jordan received his first proper call up to the September 2017 internationals, but had to wait to make his debut in November in that year in the World Cup Play-Off against Switzerland.
Domestically, Jones continued to make a good impression in the Scottish Premiership and, as with any English-born player up there, was repeatedly linked with moves back south across the border. In January 2018, both Norwich and Fulham had bids rejected, as did Rangers. However the Glasgow giants did secure their man the following January on a pre-contract deal, with Jones moving for free on a four-year contract in the summer of 2019.
There was excitement in Glasgow about the move, none more so than from Jones himself. However, his first Old Firm game saw his Ibrox career hit a wall. Already 2-0 down in stoppage time, Jones literally saw red by hacking down Celtic defender Moritz Bauer. Not only was he sent off, but Jones injured himself in the wild challenge and was out until the new year.
Rangers manager Steven Gerrard never seemed to give Jones the same opportunities and last summer saw Jones lined with a loan move back to Middlesbrough. Determined to prove his manager wrong, Jones forced his way back into the Rangers side only to press the self-destruct button once, breaching Covid-19 restrictions by attending a house party with a team mate.
Jordan Jones may be a bit of a lad about town, a cheeky character and a Kyle Lafferty-style over-eagerness to please the fans. Beyond this, Sunderland are getting a tricky winger who will go on fast, mazy runs. He is more likely to look for the striker rather than go for goal himself, so he’s unselfish.
I may be offering the same statement as Will Grigg (sorry about that) by saying that Jones is a player that should destroy defences in this division, but that will depend on him keeping his head out of trouble and Johnson getting the best out of his undoubted talent.