Jordan Jones ready to make his mark for Northern Ireland
The Kilmarnock winger made his international debut last November.
Jordan Jones is ready to fulfil Michael O’Neill’s prophecy and become a Northern Ireland fans’ favourite.
O’Neill had said Jones was a player supporters “will love” when he first called him up earlier this season, and the 23-year-old made a lively cameo from the bench in the World Cup play-off with Switzerland in November.
Now the Kilmarnock winger is hoping to live up to O’Neill’s billing ahead of a possible first international start when South Korea visit Belfast this weekend.
“I think it is a really big compliment and you have to make sure you don’t get too excited about those compliments and go out and prove him right,” Jones said.
“We spoke the other week about my performances with Kilmarnock and he has been really impressed. Now I want to try and get some minutes.”
Not every manager is enamoured with Jones, with Aberdeen chief Derek McInnes recently inferring he dived to win a penalty and St Johnstone boss Tommy Wright also angered by the winger earning set-pieces against his side.
Jones insists he is unperturbed by such comments and is only worried about the opinions of O’Neill and his club boss Steve Clarke.
Clarke has been linked with the managerial position at Rangers having taken over a Killie side that were bottom of the Scottish Premiership table and moved them up to fifth.
Jones, who Rangers unsuccessfully tried to sign in January, is full of admiration for the job Clarke has done at Rugby Park.
“He’s been vital for me personally and for the team,” Jones added.
“It’s not just results, we have been getting performances as well, especially against all the big teams – we beat Rangers for instance on Saturday.
“It is testament to what he has done and what he has brought to the squad, not just him but his assistant Alex Dyer as well has been fantastic for the lads. It is a really positive time to be at Kilmarnock right now.
“I think we are really structured. Everyone knows their job. If you go into any dressing room not every player is going to be happy, the players who aren’t playing aren’t going to be happy.
“(But) the way it is at the moment, even the lads who aren’t playing are training as hard as possible to get the lads who are in the team out of the team. That makes a real difference.
“If you look at the substitutions the manager makes he reads the game perfectly and they always seem to work, which shows you how good a manager he is.
“If you ask any player at Kilmarnock they would all be desperate for him to stay. He’s been fantastic for all the lads and fantastic for the club as a whole.”