England Risk Losing Jones to Nigeria: Here’s Why

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Jones Being Coveted by Nigeria

A surprising story emerged this week, with Liverpool’s starting midfielder, Curtis Jones, considering his international football allegiance. This story may have little genuine substance, with the potential that Jones is merely being coveted by Nigeria, given his grandmother’s heritage. The most alarming notion would not be losing this gifted middle man to another international pool of players, but more that any switch to Nigeria would almost certainly see him depart in January for the 2024 African Cup of Nations. Liverpool fans are only too aware of the need for at least one more midfielder in the Liverpool squad, added to which, Wataru Endō will be leading Japan in the Asia Cup, a tournament which runs parallel to the AFCON. To imagine losing Curtis Jones for the duration of that mid-season competition is unthinkable, which is why I am now questioning how it has reached this point.

The Rise of Curtis Jones at Liverpool

Without delving too much into how certain scenarios would affect Jürgen Klopp, with his ability to navigate the new year period, it is important to investigate how this situation has emerged. Since the backend of last season, Curtis Jones has been a first team starter and prominent figure within the Liverpool team. During that period, LFC won most of their games, with the player in question often being integral. Despite the summer acquisitions of Alexis Mac Allister, Dominik Szoboszlai, Wataru Endō, and Ryan Gravenberch, it was only when the 23-year-old was suspended, did he drop out of the first team elite. The entire regeneration period has been built upon replacing the previously stale entities with young, vibrant, and hungry individuals who can create a successful Liverpool 2.0 under their German manager. The likes of James Milner, Fabinho, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Naby Keïta, and Jordan Henderson, were all either released or sold on over the off-season, with the latter name being the most controversial of that list. To see the current Al-Ettifaq FC captain continue to be picked (by his country) whilst playing in the Saudi Pro League, is no surprise. Gareth Southgate is evidently a manager who requires loyal senior players around him, which is why he also continues to select the seldom-used Manchester United reserve, Harry Maguire. In the case of the former Anfield captain, his own regression has been dramatic and at 33-year-years of age, he was sold purely because the physicality of a top tier league was too much for his tired body. Although it does not bother me too much who is called upon, it does surprise and annoy me to see Curtis Jones once again overlooked for players who have not been at his level for quite some time.

Below is the latest three lions squad list.

Southgate’s Selection Dilemma

I am bemused as to how Kalvin Phillips, Jordan Henderson, Conor Gallagher, and Harry Maguire have made the latest group, whereas the 23-year-old Liverpool starlet merely sits at home while serving his unfair suspension. The attacking midfielder is now too old to represent the under-21’s, which is a team he was pivotal in driving to the 2023 European Championship trophy. His man of the match performance in the final of that tournament (versus Spain) should have represented the moment he stepped up to the full England squad, especially given his club form before and after that historic event. Despite the need for this type of industrious and talented player, the young scouser continues to be ignored by Gareth Southgate, whilst others continue to be called upon regardless of their form. This kind of oversight could lead to England losing a wonderfully talented and versatile player, one who is primed to become a central piece for Liverpool in their pursuit for major honours. The likes of Gallagher, Phillips, Henderson, and Maguire have all been either peripheral figures or in poor form for their clubs, yet all have received another call-up by their country.

A Potential Loss for England

The simple and undeniable fact is that our homegrown talent deserves a full call-up; however, the blinkered management of England’s current manager is delaying what should have been awarded long ago. As we draw closer to next summer’s European Champions, I hope to see our gifted number 17 a part of that group and not on a plane to the AFCON (six months prior), where he would then miss an entire month of the reds ongoing season.

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