Opinion: No debut yet but Curtis Jones destined for major England impact

Curtis Jones may not be on the England radar yet but he will be. The Liverpool youngster is destined to make an impact.

Another season like last term and Curtis Jones should have an England debut around the corner. He’s just too promising for that not to be the case.

Not that it’s an easy group to force your way into. For one, there are a host of very talented attacking midfielders and wingers currently in the setup.

Raheem Sterling, Mason Mount, Jack Grealish, Phil Foden, Bukayo Saka and Jadon Sancho all take up positions Jones would fight for. You can add a returning Harvey Barnes to that group, too.

Yet we still believe Jones will force his way in. His playing style, coupled with his incredible development, certainly points in that direction.

Curtis Jones for England?

Jones is primarily a player who gets the ball and moves it into dangerous areas. That’s his biggest quality right now, albeit at a very early stage in his career.

It does fly under the radar, however, just how good Jones is at that. He’s already doing it at an elite level in the Premier League.

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If we look at players with over 900 minutes last season (equivalent to 10 games), Jones competes with the very best for progressive actions. Only four players carry the ball more often per game, for instance.

They’re elite players, too – Mateo Kovacic, Jordan Henderson, Rodri and Kyle Walker.

Then there are ‘progressive carries’. In other words, moving the ball forwards at least five yards towards the opposition goal. Jones sits sixth in the Premier League for doing that per game.

And moving it into the final third? Jones is in truly elite company there. Only Bernardo Silva, Jack Grealish, Harvey Barnes and Kevin De Bruyne do it more often.

He’s getting there with his passing, too, as Jones is eighth for the number of passes into the final third he completes per game. For a player in his first full senior season, it’s all quite remarkable.

But this is where we think it gets interesting for England. Jones also does the ‘safe’ stuff very well. He averaged over a tackle and an interception per 90 for Liverpool last season, while his pass completion was the sixth-best in the Premier League.

For us, this all suits England.

Southgate’s style

Gareth Southgate has built his England team on sitting back and squeezing space for the opposition. Then he relies on players to win the ball back and quickly move it forward to hurt teams.

Jones should fit that mould to perfection. He’s well-versed in pressing at Liverpool, while he’s also solid at winning the ball back.

Photo by Andrew Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images

You can rely on him to keep it, too, and move it forward as well as virtually any other Premier League player. Jones is a wonderful option for a team looking to do exactly what Southgate asks of his players.

But the big thing for us is that Jones is still only 20 and will soon begin just his second senior season. This is a player who will continue to develop over the next 12 months.

So when it comes to testing out a side for the 2022 World Cup, Jones should be an even better option than he is now. Yes, there’s a lot of competition for his place in that squad but Jones is such a good fit that we see him making a major impact.

He’s a truly special player – and the right one for England.

All stats per FBref/StatsBomb

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