Liverpool starlet Curtis Jones is striving to match the hype after a fairytale rise at his boyhood club… but the road to regular action remains long despite a good showing at Newcastle
- Curtis Jones burst on to the scene at Liverpool with his Merseyside derby winner
- The Toxteth-born youngster’s year has ended with far fewer fireworks, however
- Jones gave a more inconspicuous showing in the goalless draw at Newcastle
- The road remains long for him, perhaps harshly, after Thiago’s return to action
To be fair to Curtis Jones, the bar had been set rather high.
It was always going to take something special for him to see out 2020 with the same panache with which he began it.
A year ago next week, the 19-year-old exploded into Liverpool folklore with a stunning winner in the Merseyside derby.
The bar was set high for Curtis Jones after the Liverpool youngster’s rise at his boyhood club
Fairytale stuff for a kid from Toxteth – a first goal for his boyhood club, a giant leap forward for a precocious talent. Since then, his star has risen almost uninterrupted. More goals and accolades have followed.
On Wednesday night, in his 18th appearance of this campaign, the sun set on his breakout year with far fewer fireworks.
Against Newcastle, Jones had a more inconspicuous evening.
The midfielder had a more inconspicuous evening at Newcastle compared to his derby heroics
By the time he was hooked on 68 minutes, he had misplaced only a few of his 38 passes; one sliding challenge earned a cry of gratitude from captain Jordan Henderson.
But there were previous few opportunities to show the confidence and colour which has defined his development.
‘I still wouldn’t really say that I’m an established first-team player,’ the 19-year-old admitted before the game.
Harsh, perhaps, but Jones will know the road remains long. Particularly when one of his biggest roadblocks returned to the pitch at St James’ Park.
The road remains long for Toxteth-born Jones after Thiago returned to the pitch on Tyneside
Jurgen Klopp had suggested this trip would come too early for Thiago Alcantara following two months out with a knee problem.
The Spain midfielder has managed only 134 minutes since signing from Bayern Munich – at his best, there are few better ball players in world football. And few better masters from whom Jones can learn.
But Thiago hadn’t played since that painful draw with rivals Everton. His absence has widened the door for Jones to strut his stuff and it was in the year’s first derby, of course, that the teenager first made his mark.
The midfielder has been at Liverpool since Under 9s – by January everyone around Anfield knew about his potential. A shame for Everton, then, that the message hadn’t spread across Stanley Park.
Thiago’s injury comeback will help Jones to learn from him but chances will not come easily
By now he has inherited the No 17 jersey, once worn by another useful Scouse midfielder during his early days. But as Liverpool push for back-to-back titles, it will take more than emotion and comparisons with Steven Gerrard to keep him in the team.
With Thiago and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain now back in the frame, chances won’t come so easily for this special talent.
It promises to be another defining 12 months.