Midfielder Curtis Jones believes his “time has come” to play a significant role for Liverpool.
Jones, who turned 23 on Tuesday, made his senior debut in January 2019 but his breakthrough did not come until the following campaign.
Since then he has been gaining experience and – after a testing time last year because of injury – he is enjoying his best goalscoring season, having taken his tally to five with a goal in last weekend’s FA Cup victory over Norwich.
Manager Jurgen Klopp’s faith in the Toxteth-born academy graduate has not wavered and Jones responded with another good performance in the 4-1 win over Chelsea which extended their lead at the top of the Premier League to five points.
“It’s the most I’m enjoying it, I’d say,” Jones told TNT Sports.
“It’s been up and down for the whole time, I’d say – I had the injuries and stuff. It’s the first time when I’ve come in the team and I’m enjoying it, I’m playing free, I’m scoring goals and helping the team, so, I’m happy.
“I came around the team when I was 17 and it wasn’t an easy thing, but he (Klopp) was calling me in all the time and we were having chats. He was always saying, ‘Your time will come’.
“I’m at the point now where my time has come and I’m taking my chance. I had to adapt my game a lot. That’s what I’ve done now.”
Jones’ contribution this season has been particularly important with injuries to Alexis Mac Allister and Dominik Szoboszlai, plus the Asian Cup absence of Wataru Endo, meaning midfield resources have often been stretched.
But having come through January unscathed, the club are still challenging for four trophies and even before news of Klopp’s pending departure emerged, Jones believes they were set up for something special after a summer rebuild of their midfield.
“The team has got this buzz about us. It’s a new team, it’s a young team, it’s a fresh team,” he added.
“Of course there’s been a change in terms of how we play and the lads that have come in.
“Normally it takes a bit of time to adapt but the lads have just adapted quickly, they’ve come in, played their part.
“It’s just not individuals, like Mo (Salah) scoring all the goals. The likes of me are going to help, Dom’s going to help, Conor (Bradley) is going to help, Trent (Alexander-Arnold) as always. It’s passing through the whole of the team.”
The demolition of Chelsea highlighted the focus of the Liverpool players has so far not been distracted by Klopp’s announcement he is quitting and the manager is delighted by that.
“Attitude is not our problem, attitude is something we can expect. Attitude is created by the culture. Attitude is created by the crowd,” said the German.
“Attitude is created by pretty much everybody around the team. Attitude will not be the issue of this team.”