Belfast Telegraph

Comment: Jordan Jones has proved why Northern Ireland and Rangers fans should be licking their lips

Jordan Jones was Northern Ireland's star man against Estonia.
Jordan Jones was Northern Ireland's star man against Estonia.
Pacemaker Belfast 21-3-19 Northern Ireland v Estonia - Euro 2020 Qualifier Northern Ireland's Jordan Jones and Estonia's Artjom Dmitrijev during this evening's game at the National Stadium, Belfast. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - MARCH 21: Jordan Jones of Northern Ireland runs with the ball during the 2020 UEFA European Championships group C qualifying match between Northern Ireland and Estonia at Windsor Park on March 21, 2019 in Belfast, United Kingdom. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - MARCH 21: Jordan Jones of Northern Ireland controls the ball during the 2020 UEFA European Championships group C qualifying match between Northern Ireland and Estonia at Windsor Park on March 21, 2019 in Belfast, United Kingdom. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - MARCH 21: Jordan Jones of Northern Ireland is tackled by Nikita Baranov of Estonia during the 2020 UEFA European Championships group C qualifying match between Northern Ireland and Estonia at Windsor Park on March 21, 2019 in Belfast, United Kingdom. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - MARCH 21: Gert Kams of Estonia closes down Jordan Jones of Northern Ireland during the 2020 UEFA European Championships group C qualifying match between Northern Ireland and Estonia at Windsor Park on March 21, 2019 in Belfast, United Kingdom. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
Gareth Hanna

By Gareth Hanna

Jordan Jones showed exactly why Rangers have already snapped him up with an outstanding display for Northern Ireland against Estonia.

Kilmarnock fans won't be surprised. They know all about the 24-year-old Middlesbrough man and the dangers he can cause an opposition defence. After all, he's been doing it since his move to Scotland in 2016.

While he has showed plenty of promise in his five previous caps, this felt like the night that the Ibrox-bound attacker transformed from a good option to a star man on the international stage.

He certainly won't be easily removed from the Northern Ireland starting side after that display. His persistent pressing and inch-perfect passing will have not just the GAWA licking their lips but the NI strikers as well. And the Belarus right-back watching on in horror.

It was his pass that hoisted the ball into the box for Niall McGinn's opening goal - allowing Kyle Lafferty to control and set up the strike. The pass before the pass. And it was no one off.

Jones would have had an assist to his name had Paddy McNair managed to convert from point-blank range when the marauding midfielder got his head on the winger's cross in the first half.

McNair headed another curling ball over in the second half while it was Jones' quick-feet in the that dazzled his marker and won a dangerous free-kick before the break.

He could even have marked the landmark night with a goal of his own but his early half volley flew the wrong side of his post and when he burst through on goal in the second half, George Saville opted instead to find Kyle Lafferty, whose angle was much less favourable.

In fairness, with Saville winning the penalty for Steven Davis to smash home about five seconds after, it's hard to be too harsh on him for that. But Jones will be looking back thinkng of what could have been.

It's little wonder that Steven Davis admits he's looking forward to his international team-mate making the switch to Glasgow this summer.

"Jordan carries a real threat," the NI skipper said after the game. "He's a direct player and I thought he tested their right-back every time he got the ball. It was a very confident performance from him and hopefully he can keep building on the performances he's had.

"Since Jordan's come in, he's made a real impact on the team. He did himself well tonight."

Jones' class showed not only with the ball but without as well. It was him who led Northern Ireland's new high pressing style early in the game, charging down Estonia full-back Nikita Baranov to win early possession and ensure the hosts' early dominance was complete and utter.

It's certainly a new, exciting style for Northern Ireland. Fast with the ball, just as speedy without it. The days of a bank defence and hoping for the best on the break are gone.

And that's because of the young, exciting talent.

Like Jordan Jones.

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