Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland fans will LOVE Jordan Jones, says Michael O'Neill

By Gareth Hanna

Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill has talked up the potential of one of the two uncapped players he included in his latest squad.

O'Neill named his panel to face Germany and Norway at lunch-time on Monday and included Gareth McAuley, who last week returned to action following a thigh injury.

Also in the squad were uncapped duo George Saville (Millwall) and Jordan Jones (Kilmarnock).

Jones has been a part of the Northern Ireland set-up before, taking part in the training camp in the build-up to the summer friendly over New Zealand and World Cup qualifier in Azerbaijan.

Now, as he has been included in the latest squad, O'Neill has revealed his high hopes for the English-born midfielder.

"Jordan Jones is quick, he's the sort of player fans will love," O'Neill said at Monday's press conference. "It's a great opportunity for him and he is only 22."

Jones told the Kilmarnock FC twitter that he's hoping he can make his international debut in one of the upcoming two fixtures.

"I'm absolutely over the moon," he said. "I was at home yesterday and the manager rang me. It's brilliant news for me and my family and a really big achievement.

"I'm buzzing just to be involved so hopefully I can make a good impression in the training camps and get some time on the pitch. It's a massive confidence booster. I feel like I've really picked up my game in the last couple of weeks."

Boss O'Neill also indicated there was no chance he would look past McAuley after the defender returned to first team action just last week, in West Brom's League Cup defeat to Manchester City.

"Gareth would always be a big miss," said O'Neill. "His game time has been limited but McAuley is always one who you want in your squad."

Northern Ireland host Germany on Tuesday October 5 before travelling to take on Norway in the last qualifying group match on Sunday October 8.

"Germany couldn't be more difficult," said O'Neill. "We couldn't have the game though at a better time. We have nothing to lose. After the players experienced the Euros, we want to experience a World Cup. But we have lots of work to do yet."

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