In the space of a few months, Curtis Jones has gone from an academy prospect to a regular for one of the world’s biggest teams.
The 20-year-old has made 27 appearances in all competitions for Liverpool so far this season. 11 of these have been starts in the Premier League with five more in the Champions League.
While injury issues have limited Liverpool’s options in midfield, Jurgen Klopp trusts Jones to play in the biggest games. He has started ahead of the likes of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and James Milner at times, proving this fact.
The Scouser showed exactly why he is so highly thought of in his side’s win over Sheffield United last Sunday night.
As well as a goal and a man of the match performance in Liverpool’s 2-0 win, Jones showed maturity beyond his years in his post-match interview with Sky Sports where he dedicated his goal to the father of Alisson, who tragically lost his life in an incident last week.
It was a touching tribute that capped off a remarkable performance on the pitch.
Jones is proving himself week after week. He has picked a good time to begin to do so.
We are three-and-a-half months away from the delayed Euro 2020 tournament. As we approach the business end of the Premier League season, Gareth Southgate will have his eye on which English players are peaking at the right time.
While there are probably 15-20 players who have already secured their places in the squad, there will undoubtedly be a few spots up for grabs in the next few months.
If he continues to perform at the current rate, Curtis Jones could well prove impossible to ignore for the Three Lions boss.
Jones’ numbers are amongst the best in England
First things first, it is probably important to point out exactly how good Curtis Jones has been playing for Liverpool recently.
While the team is in a horrendous run of form, Jones himself has been their best player in the last few weeks.
Every time he picks up the ball, he looks to make things happen. He is an eye-catcher in the midfield, with his dynamic playing style. His touch and close control are up there with the very best at the club.
Jones is also putting up fantastic underlying numbers. And not just good for a young player, but good by all standards.
He is in the 90th percentile or higher amongst midfielders in Europe’s top five leagues for numerous per 90 statistics.
The youngster is no slouch defensively either, with a respectable 3.07 tackles and interceptions per 90. This would undoubtedly be higher if he wasn’t playing in such a ball-dominant side.
He does all the basics very well and is outstanding in more than a few areas.
His goal at the weekend was his second this season. He also has three assists. This proves that he can have a big influence going forward when afforded the opportunity to do so.
Jones looks like he will become world-class in the next few years. Liverpool fans can count their lucky stars that they have another local lad performing at this level.
Jones is the out-and-out No 8 that England lack
While England have a lot of quality in the attacking midfield roles, they lack options to play in the slightly deeper areas.
They have a multitude of talent at home in the No 10 role, like Jack Grealish, James Maddison and Phil Foden. While all could feasibly place as an advanced 8, they would not offer the same defensive solidity as Jones would.
In Declan Rice and Kalvin Phillips, they have two very good No 6’s.
But they do not have a wealth of options to play as a box-to-box No 8. Jordan Henderson is a nailed-on starter, but if he is unavailable then the options are thin.
Mason Mount is probably better as an 8 in a 4-3-3 than he is as a No 10 or out wide, so he is one option. After that, you are looking at the likes of James Ward-Prowse or Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Jude Bellingham is a good candidate. He is incredibly young but is playing at as high a level as anybody else in contention.
Yet Jones is playing at the very top level under a demanding, elite manager. It takes a lot for Jurgen Klopp to trust players enough to play them in midfield. The position has a lot of responsibility in Liverpool’s system.
That is more evidence that Jones is at the required level to play in a tournament for his country.
A lot depends on the formation that Southgate wants to play. The manager seems set on some form of three-at-the-back system, for better or for worse.
They must decide how many central midfielders they want to start so they can decide how many they want to name in the squad.
If they decide to go with a 3-5-2 or a 4-3-3, then they will have to bring at least five options, including the No 6’s.
If that is the case, then Henderson, Mount, Bellingham and Jones would all be worthy of inclusion.
One thing for certain is that Curtis Jones can be trusted. All he has to do is finish the season strongly and it will be impossible to ignore him.