Last season, 20-year-old midfielder and academy graduate Curtis Jones played nearly 2,000 first team minutes in 34 games across all competitions for Liverpool and firmly establishing himself as a prominent squad option for manager Jürgen Klopp.
This season, following the departure of veteran Gini Wijnaldum, that number will be expected to go up—perhaps significantly. It’s a big ask for the youngster, but on the evidence of last season it’s an ask he does look to be up for.
“I had a good run of games,” Jones said of his experience last season. “There was a spell where I was in the team all the time—it was Premier League then Champions League and back to the Premier League. The experience was great, I felt good and it took me to the next step.”
As for exactly what that next step was, Jones points to his development as a more rounded player, of improving his positioning off the ball and play defensively as the reason he has increasingly been given trust by his manager and more senior teammates.
“In the Academy days I was always a kid that was an attacking player and my first thought was always to attack,” he said. “But the higher you get, things change a touch. You’ve still got the thought about goals and assists, but another side of my game has come in now, the defensive part of my game, and I’m doing well in that as well.”
Given how often Jones played last season, there’s no doubt of his standing as a first team player. The only question now is how big his role will be moving forward, though the it sounds as though Jones has some idea of what those expectations are, adding:
“I know what the season needs from me and know what the team needs, the fans need, the staff need. I’m prepared for that.”