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Apologetic Jordan Jones will come back stronger for Rangers and Northern Ireland, says O'Neill


Red mist: Jordan Jones was red-carded against Celtic after a poor tackle, in which he injured himself
Red mist: Jordan Jones was red-carded against Celtic after a poor tackle, in which he injured himself

By Graham Luney

Jordan Jones will learn lessons from his Old Firm nightmare and come back even stronger for Rangers and Northern Ireland, according to his international boss Michael O'Neill.

Winger Jones would have been a key figure for O'Neill in Thursday's vital Euro 2020 qualifier versus Holland in Rotterdam but he won't play again in the group stages due to a knee injury suffered last month against Celtic.

Having come off the bench at Ibrox, Jones was red-carded after making a wild challenge on Moritz Bauer in stoppage time during Celtic's 2-0 league win.

To make matters worse, the 24-year-old wide man sustained a serious knee problem in the reckless challenge.

O'Neill revealed last week that the former Kilmarnock ace has had surgery and won't be available for the November internationals having missed September's loss at home to Germany.

Jones apologised to Bauer and has been saying sorry to Northern Ireland manager O'Neill ever since.

"If Jordan has apologised to me once, he has apologised 100 times," said O'Neill.

"It was a rash moment. Players do that. Players have moments of madness. I think his actions post that game were good. He was very open about his apology to the Celtic player in question and he knows he was in the wrong.

"That was his first experience of an Old Firm game. He was maybe a little bit disappointed that he didn't get a chance to start. I saw him play against Legia Warsaw in the Europa League midweek game a few days before the Celtic match and he played very well, making a big difference when he came into it.

"These are all things he will have to learn from. Jordan is very disappointed he is missing our group games and he is disappointed he is missing the chance to establish himself at Rangers, but he will learn from his actions and I have no doubt he will come back strong and be ready to play and be as keen as ever to show what he's all about for us and his club.

"There's clearly no favourites at Rangers. If you play well you stay in the team, if you don't play well you are out of the team. At a club like Rangers, and under a manager like Steven Gerrard, Jordan will have to play well to stay in the team.

"They have a lot of options and a lot of good wide players. What he has shown in his time at Rangers is that he is at that level.

"That is always the first challenge for a player when they come from a smaller club in Scotland and they go to either side of the Old Firm.

"You have to prove you can do it. That doesn't happen overnight. "

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