Curtis Jones came on for the final phase of Liverpool’s win against Ajax in Amsterdam on Wednesday, after an extended period of absence from the team.
After his return, he spoke briefly to Liverpool.com, and noted that while he is not all the way there physically, he’s ready to be back in contention for game time:
“Fitness-wise, I wouldn’t say I am 100 per cent yet but I’m definitely almost there.
“I was out for 10 weeks [and] I’ve done all my recovery stuff and fitness stuff but it’s never the same as a game so I’m just taking it each game at a time and then hopefully I’ll be back to 100 per cent soon.”
His injury itself was an odd one, but he’s pleased to be back: “It was a bone injury and if you get a bone injury it’s always from a bad tackle or something like that but it wasn’t, they [the medical team] said it was from a stress response.
“I don’t know what it was from, [maybe] a bad pitch or an overload of things. So, it was unusual but it’s fine now. I’m back, I’m playing, I’m happy and I’m smiling again, so happy days.”
In his interview, he spoke at length on the causes of Liverpool’s uneven start to the 2022/23 season:
“It’s on us I’d say. The manager and his staff can pick a team and the fans may say it’s a strong team or they might say, ‘He hasn’t played for a while and he’s come in so he can make the team weaker’, but at the end of the day it is on us. As I said, he picks his team so it’s down to us to go out there and perform.
“Of course, it depends on the type of game. If it’s a cup game he might tweak his team a bit, young kids come into the side and they know that they have a huge role to play because they are part of the team. Then if we are coming across a Champions League side or a Premier League side, then it’s on the ones that are classed as the ‘bigger’ players to take it upon themselves and show what they are capable of doing.
“And for players like myself that are coming in from being out for a while [and] seeing the team in, I wouldn’t call it a struggle but a bit of a dip, it’s to try to come in and help the team find their 100 per cent perfect form. So, we all have our roles and we’re definitely there for that.”
The five matches before the World Cup break might well present an opportunity for Jones and the Reds to get back into top form. Does Jones see it this way?
“One hundred per cent. But if not, it’s not a thing I sulk about anymore. I know that I play a role in the team and when I’m back to my best I know that it will be a bigger role, but at the same time you have to give credit to the lads who are in the team now, who are doing well. I have to just wait and when the chance comes, I’ve got to take the chance and keep my shirt.”
Jones knows the team don’t do it alone, and hopes the fans will help — especially against Leeds, who the Reds play for a Saturday night game at Anfield:
“As everybody has seen for years now, we’re a team that has a bond with the fans, so if the game is a little bit flat the fans will start to sing. If there’s a challenge they will be up on their feet shouting and stuff so that gives us a boost. If we’re playing well they are singing our names and singing the songs… and if the game is a bit flat, it only takes a small chance and the fans are there again and they give us the boost. That brings the best out of us so it will be a good game and I’m looking forward to it, definitely.”