Last season, 20-year-old Curtis Jones played nearly 2,000 minutes for the Reds, and many assumed the young midfielder was set for an even bigger role at the start of pre-season. To start the year, though, he found himself stuck on the bench.
In recent weeks, though, following an injury to Harvey Elliott, Jones has been given his chance to impress. And that’s exactly what he’s done according to Virgil van Dijk, who says Jones has seized the opportunity and is proving his quality.
“Harvey got injured, of course, and was doing so well,” Van Dijk said this week. “It was difficult probably for Curtis to see that a little bit because obviously he wanted to play, but saw Harvey doing so well. Now he had to take his chance.
“At the moment, I think if you look at our midfield, Naby is still doing very well, Oxlade is doing very well, so it’s not easy to be out there. Obviously in the last couple of games he’s shown that he has the quality to be there and is doing well.”
After a pair of cameo appearances against AC Milan and Crystal Palace, Jones has logged 335 minutes in the last four games—two in the league, one in the League Cup, and one in the Champions League—or about 84 minutes per match.
He’s also contributed a goal and three assists in those four games, seemingly answering any questions as to whether he’s ready to take on a larger role, even if as a young player everyone will have to keep in mind he still has more to learn.
“He’s still young, still learning, [but] he has a great mentality” Van Dijk added. “He has to keep that going. It’s only the start and he has to keep showing it. The most difficult part of being a football player is being consistent but so far, so good.”