InterviewCurtis Jones on fitness, maturing and Carabao Cup motivation
Curtis Jones expressed his immense determination to add the Carabao Cup to his medal collection.
The midfielder is back fit again after recently recovering from an unfortunate eye injury and then COVID-19, and he hopes to feature in Liverpool's semi-final first leg with Arsenal at Anfield on Thursday.
Jones, who contributed to the Reds' triumphs in the Premier League and FIFA Club World Cup in 2019-20, is now particularly keen to lift the trophy the club last won in 2012.
He said: "I've been involved in the battles for the Premier League, Champions League, FIFA Club World Cup, so if I can add this as well, that will be amazing. I'll try my hardest to help the team win it.
"I think it's a huge chance. The last time we played against them [Arsenal] it was a big game. And then the game I actually played against them was the 5-5 game, and that was amazing. I scored the winning penalty at Anfield and it put us through.
"It'd be great if we could go out there and put on a show and get a win. I think Arsenal are in a good spell, doing well, have got a good team – but so have we. It'll be a good game at Anfield, we've got the fans, so I'm confident."
Read on for the rest of Liverpoolfc.com's interview with the No.17 ahead of the duel with the Gunners…
Inside Anfield: Liverpool 5-5 Arsenal
Curtis, you're back fit again. How nice is it to be back out there on the pitch?
It's very good now that I'm back. I had an injury, it was a bad one – I had a tear in the back of my eye. But it was mad because, to me, I felt fine, I felt I could run, I felt I could train, I could play. But the doctors were saying no, so I had to go with that. I could only do a small bike session, stretching, foam rolling, stuff like that. I couldn't even get in the pool. I had to just be chilled, relaxed and just wait.
It must've been a hugely frustrating process for you...
A goal for the season was to get into the team, play, goals, assists and to help the team. I was doing that well and then it was the day before a huge game at Anfield against Atletico Madrid in the Champions League and I got poked in my eye. From then, I'm out for six-and-a-half weeks. I came back, trained twice and then COVID. So it's been a hard two, three months but I'm back now, I'm working hard and I'm excited.
I'm kind of used to getting knocks. The worst thing I've ever had is a bit of a tear in a hamstring but the physios here have seen that all before. They can sort of say if it's going to be two weeks or a month out – you kind of know. But with this, we just didn't have a clue, we didn't know. We took it day by day, week by week and then in the end it was a month and a bit. It was hard but I'm fortunate enough now that I'm back.
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Sometimes when you're out, it gives you that additional focus to make up for lost time...
Yeah, of course. I was watching the games. There were games when I was happy because the boys were smashing it, and then there were games where I thought that if I was there it would've been a perfect game I could've played in. But I waited calmly, I was patient. I'm back now and I can't wait.
You're 21 at the end of the month and worked so hard to get to the point you're at now. Can you put your finger on a few simple things you've worked on to establish yourself in the first-team squad?
There's a few things, yeah. At first I was a kid that came in excited and happy. I'd have the ball and I'd just run with the ball and trying passes or [be] all about goals, goals and goals. It's the same now when I get goals, of course, but the longer I've been around the team, I think I've matured in terms of the defending side of the game, I would say. I wouldn't call it defending, I would just say it's more my overall game I've changed. At first it was all attack, attack, attack. Now if I give away the ball, I'll press. Just the small things that basically make a centre-midfielder here.