Curtis Jones has opened up on the difficulties he experienced as a youngster after breaking into the senior ranks at Liverpool.
Jones, 22, has managed to establish himself as a first-team regular this season after progressing through the ranks at his boyhood club - even in spite of an influx of new arrivals in the Reds' engine room.
But the midfielder's path has been anything but straightforward since he first nudged his way into Jurgen Klopp's plans back in 2019. Ahead of this week's match against Toulouse in the Europa League, Jones has detailed how he was forced to adapt and mature after realising much more was expected of him following his senior breakthrough.
Speaking on Wednesday, Jones recalled: “As an academy kid I was always a kid who jumped up the age groups. Then I came into the first team and I kind of felt like I hit a wall, and I couldn’t really take the next step. So it was more just going over my game and seeing where the improvements were.
“I’ve always been a lad who just wanted to go and score goals and pick up the ball and run, you know. But it was at the point where then I learned, ‘OK, there’s more the gaffer and staff want.’
“Now the fans are all saying about how I go and press. I’ve never been a kid who thought about being the first one to go and press or to try to run the most, so I’ve added that in my game. I’m trying to work on just the overall package. I’ve still got a lot of things to learn, but I’m getting there.”
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Jones has managed to keep his place in the team this season despite the arrival of four new central midfielders this summer: Alexis Mac Allister, Dominik Szoboszlai, Wataru Endo and Ryan Gravenberch.
Jones' prominence in the Liverpool squad so far this term speaks volumes about his development. While Jones has always been held in high regard at Anfield, Klopp told the youngster that he needed to start delivering on his potential during a frank heart-to-heart talk last year.
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Speaking back in January 2022, Klopp said: “I had a long talk last week with Curtis, because I love the boy and I love the potential he has. But we have to now really make the next steps and make sure that he fulfils the potential he has on the pitch.
“You have these kinds of conversations when you are not 100 percent happy with the moment. That’s where we are in Curtis’ development.”
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