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I'll keep on sacrificing myself if it helps Northern Ireland reach Euro finals, says Rangers star Jordan Jones

Winger is craving the 'life changing' experience of a major finals

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Front foot: Jordan Jones goes on the attack against Austria

Front foot: Jordan Jones goes on the attack against Austria

Front foot: Jordan Jones goes on the attack against Austria

Northern Ireland winger Jordan Jones has spoken about the desperation in the camp to reach the Euro 2020 finals and how he will happily sacrifice himself so that the team can reach the end goal.

In last week's dramatic and momentous penalty shoot-out success over Bosnia and Herzegovina to qualify for the November 12 play-off decider against Slovakia at Windsor Park, the Rangers ace found himself in an odd situation.

He had come on as a substitute after 82 minutes in Sarajevo and was one of the brightest players during extra-time, making darting, incisive runs and having shots on goal, only to be taken off just seconds before the final whistle alongside fellow substitute Jordan Thompson to allow penalty takers Conor Washington and Liam Boyce onto the pitch.

Manager Ian Baraclough called Jones "selfless" and while the 25-year-old is honest enough to admit he wasn't doing cartwheels at the time of his substitution, he was dancing with delight when Washington and Boyce scored Northern Ireland's last two penalties to seal a place in next month's play-off final in Belfast.

Ahead of tonight's Nations League tie against Norway in Oslo, explaining his emotions in last week's unforgettable victory, Jones said: "When I went on in Bosnia I was trying to be positive and trying to play my game. I had a couple of efforts and I thought I scored with one of them. Then, in the dying seconds, I saw my number go up.

"I can't stand here and say I was delighted to come off but, trust me, five minutes later I was over the moon.

"It doesn't matter one bit that I came off - as long as the team gets the result, that's what matters.

"I think it was a great move by the manager, the coach Austin MacPhee and the goalkeeping coach Steve Harper who have all worked on our penalty routine so credit to them and the boys who did well in the penalty shoot-out. Like I say, it really doesn't matter that I came off."

What does matter is Northern Ireland going all the way to the Euro 2020 finals, which will be held next year.

Former Kilmarnock ace Jones was called up to the squad in 2017, a year after the Euro 2016 finals, and has underlined the desire within the group to make it to what would be the country's fifth major tournament.

"It would mean everything to me and the squad. We are all just as desperate as each other to get there," he said.

"There are probably half of us that have never been to a major tournament and I can only imagine it would be a really special feeling. I think it would be life changing and everyone is hungry to get there and we will give everything next month to do it.

"It was an outstanding achievement and an incredible outcome in Bosnia. We are halfway there now."

After a difficult time over the past year at Rangers due to injury and being out of favour, Jones is starting to see some light at the end of the tunnel at Ibrox with impressive performances of late.

If that has pleased him, so did making a start for Northern Ireland against Austria on Sunday night in the Nations League.

What did not go down well with Jones, however, was the result and a limp display from the home team as they lost 1-0.

Not one to shirk a question, the Middlesbrough-born player, who qualifies for Northern Ireland because of his dad, was open in his assessment of the weekend affair at Windsor watched by 600 supporters.

Jones stated: "I had mixed emotions after the game. I have been out for a long time with injuries and obviously had a bit of bad luck with little niggles and stuff like that so on one hand I was over the moon to be back at Windsor Park and playing in front of some fans but the overall feeling was disappointment.

"After such a high the other night in Bosnia it was a really flat performance from the boys. I don't think we started well and that cost us the game."

Asked if the performance could have been down to fatigue, Jones responded: "I can't make excuses. It was our job to pick ourselves up after a really massive night emotionally and physically. We didn't do that and in the first 45 minutes we weren't at it."

Tonight, all connected with the Northern Ireland team will look for improvements versus Norway, who last month won 5-1 at Windsor, in the final match before the big one when Slovakia come to town with a place in the Euro 2020 finals on the line.

"We have the final to play and we are confident to do a job when that comes round but first up we have Norway," said Jones.

"That will be a tough game and we need to be in the best shape mentally and physically and then go from there."

Northern Ireland (probable): Carson, Smith, Cathcart, J Evans, Ferguson, McGinn, Saville, Thompson, C Evans, Jones, Washington.

Norway (probable): Jarstein, Svensson, Strandberg, Ajer, Meling, Linnes, Berge, Normann, Hauge, Haaland, King.

Belfast Telegraph