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Jones relishing chance to take on England after overcoming injury despair
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Press Association
London-born Jodi Jones is preparing to face England with Malta on Friday.(John Walton/PA)
London-born Jodi Jones is preparing to face England with Malta on Friday.(John Walton/PA)

Jodi Jones was wooed by Malta on Instagram and now he is looking for a picture perfect finish against England.

The Bow-born forward is ready for Friday’s Euro 2024 qualifier against Gareth Southgate’s side and he has been ready for some time.

Three cruciate ligament injuries in just over three years at Coventry put his career on hold and thwarted a move to Leeds.

His injury despair also delayed international recognition with Malta, who initially made contact with Jones via social media four years ago.

But, having made his debut in last year’s Nations League loss to Estonia before winning promotion to the Football League at Wembley with Notts County this season, Jones is ready to make up for lost time.

“I remember getting messages on Instagram. Obviously, I didn’t know if they were genuine but then they started contacting my family regularly,” he tells the PA news agency.

“It was the president (Bjorn Vassallo) who reached out to me on there, then he got my number and was calling me a lot.

“I played against Luke (Gambin, Sutton’s Malta international) and he messaged me on Instagram saying they were asking about me out there.

“Then they reached out to me not too long after that with a proper phone call and contacted the club, that’s when I thought, ‘oh, yeah, obviously this is genuine’.

“I was injured at the time so I wasn’t really interested, not because I didn’t want to do it, I was interested but I just wanted to focus on getting back fit. As soon as I was and I thought I was back to my best I thought, ‘now’s the perfect time’.”

A seventh appearance came in Friday’s 1-0 win in Luxembourg, a victory which may not resonate worldwide but against a team 80 places above them in the FIFA rankings it suggests quick progress in Michele Marcolini’s three games in charge.

“It’s got my love for the game back. It’s been a great experience, playing international football, even just little things on a shirt like a badge that says Euro qualifiers,” says Jones.

“As a kid when you get a football kit you want it to have everything on. I remember Arsenal kits when I was younger, I wanted the Champions League badge on it, I wanted the Premier League badge. I’m still like a kid when I see things like that.

“It’s got my name back out there as well, which I really needed because if you mentioned my name, people say, ‘well, he’s done his ACL three times’.

“Now, if you say my name they’ll say, ‘he did his ACL three times, but he’s still playing, he’s just been promoted with Notts County, he’s an international and is playing against England’. So the positives have overtaken now.

“I just enjoy the little things, like just being able to play. I know how quickly things can change, especially with what I’ve been through.”

The support of his family – and godparents Terry and Geraldine – has been crucial in helping Jones return from despair but it took dad Jay to remind him of how far he has come.

“My godparents, they’ve sacrificed a lot for me. From the age of six they’ve taken me to football because my parents were very young when they had me,” said the 25-year-old, who made just two appearances for Coventry between November 2018 and August 2021 because of injury.

“Without them I definitely wouldn’t be a footballer. I can’t thank them enough. For my parents and my partner I’d say it’s more they’re just relieved to see me back playing.

“My dad said to me the other day, ‘for all you’ve been through you’ve still played at Wembley twice, you’re going to be playing against England, you’ve been promoted two or three times’.

“He said for someone to have missed so much you’ve also achieved so much.

“Being from England and watching England when I was a kid, playing against them would mean just a little bit more. It’ll just be a massive thing.

“I’m just really excited my family can come and watch me play. I want to be able to be a role model to them, just show them to follow your dreams and they can come true.”

Jones has Maltese connections on both sides of his family but more on his father’s side with Jay and mum, Frances, flying out. His partner Zoe, children and godparents will be at the Ta’ Qali Stadium for the Group C game.

He also remains close with James Maddison, remaining in a WhatsApp group with former Coventry team-mates with the ribbing about trying to keep up with the Leicester star ongoing.

Friday will cap his comeback season after Notts County’s dramatic National League play-off promotion.

Last month, Jones’ first goal since October 2018 sent the Magpies to Wembley after his last-minute extra-time winner capped a thrilling 3-2 semi-final victory over Boreham Wood before a penalty shoot-out win over Chesterfield in the final.

Jones, who made his senior debut at 16 for Dagenham in 2014, scored in the shoot-out and knows how special one more goal on Friday would be.

“I’ve pictured it loads of times, whether it’ll happen is another thing,” says Jones, who joined the Magpies permanently this month after leaving Oxford.

“I believe in my ability and I know if I get one chance I will take it.”


EnglandMaltaNotts Co.League Two
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