Why Jordan Jones would be a good loan signing for Middlesbrough
The 25-year-old winger hasn’t featured for Steven Gerrard’s side since September when he was sent off in the first Old Firm derby of the season for a horror tackle and ended up injuring himself in the process.
Jones, who completed a free transfer to Ibrox from Kilmarnock this past summer, featured as a utility squad player for the Gers in the initial stages of the ongoing campaign before suffering a knee injury against Celtic back in September.
The Redcar-born wide player has recovered from that setback but he is yet to make an appearance for Gerrard’s side for over two months, although he did feature on the bench in the club’s 1-0 victory over Kilmarnock on Boxing Day.
Interestingly, Jones previously rose through the youth ranks of Middlesbrough and made a solitary appearance for the Teessiders which came as a substitute against Hastings United in an FA Cup tie way back in 2013.
Despite impressing for the U23s, the 25-year-old struggled to make a prominent breakthrough at the Riverside Stadium and spent time on loan at Hartlepool United and Cambridge United in League Two before moving north of the border to join Scottish outfit Kilmarnock in 2016.
Jones carved out a big reputation for himself as one of the division’s best attacking players during the course of his stay at Rugby Park, accumulating 11 goals and 22 assists in 119 appearances for Kilmarnock while also earning senior international recognition with Northern Ireland.
That paved the way for a free transfer to Rangers but Jones has clearly struggled to make a big impact in his debut season at Ibrox under Gerrard, with injuries and stiff competition for places proving to be a stumbling block for the talented winger.
Meanwhile, Middlesbrough pulled off one of the biggest upsets of Matchday 25 in the EFL Championship with a 2-0 victory over league leaders West Brom away from home, thanks to goals from Daniel Ayala and Ashley Fletcher.
The shock victory meant that Boro continued their resurgence with a third consecutive victory in the Championship, having already beaten Stoke City and Huddersfield Town in back-to-back fixtures.
As a result of their recent upturn in form, Jonathan Woodgate’s side currently find themselves 16th in the standings, nine points clear of the relegation zone and adrift of the top-six by the same margin.
The Teessiders are in high spirits heading into the January window and the recruitment team will surely need to get down to business as Boro look to mount an unlikely surge for the playoffs in the second half of the campaign.
Middlesbrough’s lack of firepower and creativity up top has been one of the major reasons behind their undoing this term, as evident from a tally of just 24 goals scored in 25 games so far.
Despite the team showing strong signs of promise further up the pitch in recent fixtures, Woodgate will need to bolster his attacking ranks with some new signings in January if Boro are to build on their good run of form.
Ashley Fletcher has risen to the occasion with a couple of blistering man-of-the-match displays in the absence of Britt Assombalonga, who has been out with an injury in recent weeks, while Marcus Tavernier and breakout star Djed Spence have also contributed greatly to the club’s resurgence.
However, their lack of depth in the wide areas continues to be a cause of concern, with Marvin Johnson and Tavernier probably the only specialist options on the flanks. Spence has undoubtedly made a positive impression but Middlesbrough need more goals from their wide attackers in the second half of the season.
To that end, someone like Jordan Jones could be a realistic option for the club during the mid-season trading period as they look to beef up their rather thinly-stocked wide cavalry.
Essentially a left-winger by trade, the 25-year-old has the versatility to play out wide on the right and also through the centre as an attacking midfielder, meaning that he could well be the man to solve a few nagging issues relating to lack of creativity in the final third.
Having completed his schooling at Teesside before venturing north of the border, Jones will probably be familiar with the setup and surroundings at Middlesbrough, which should make it easier for him to settle down quickly and make an immediate impact.
Things might not have clicked for the 25-year-old at Rangers so far but he is now very much a proven player in the Scottish top-flight and a loan move to the EFL Championship, particularly with his boyhood club, could help him regain his confidence.
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All in all, Middlesbrough’s pursuit of Jordan Jones during the mid-season trading period could pay rich dividends.