'I know what the team and fans need from me' - Curtis Jones
Curtis Jones is targeting further progression after what he considered to be a 'huge' season in his career.
The No.17 established himself as a dependable, quality midfield option for Jürgen Klopp in 2020-21, making 34 appearances in all competitions.
With another year's experience under his belt, the Scouser is out to ensure more strides are made with his development.
The Reds' pre-season training camp in France is providing Jones with the platform to fulfil his aims for the campaign ahead.
Read on for our chat with the 20-year-old...
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Curtis, how beneficial was last season for you, how big a step forward did you feel it was?
I thought it was huge. I played games, had a good run of games. There was a spell where I was in the team all the time – it was Premier League, then Champions League and back to the Premier League. The experience was great, I felt good and it took me to the next step.
It was a challenging season for the team because guys were missing and there were other problems to contend with. It forced players to play in various roles – how beneficial was that for you as well?
Again, it was huge. In the Academy days I was always a kid that was an attacking player and my first thought was always to attack, attack and goals. But the higher you get, things change a touch. You've still got the thought about goals and assists and, I wouldn't say [being] a star player, but a man that tries to win games and stuff. But another side of my game has come in now, the defensive part of my game, and I'm doing well in that as well.
Is that the part you learn more by spending more time in the first team – that decision-making on when to play the killer pass or when to look after the ball?
Definitely. Of course, if you make a mistake then a good team will punish you quickly, so it's very important.
Which games do you look back on as being your best performances last season?
There's a few but in different ways, to be fair. There were a couple of games where I needed to get on the ball more and do a bit – I think it was the Sheffield [United] game where I got myself a goal, West Ham where I've come on and assisted Mo quickly. If I refer back to the Champions League games, where the likes of Diogo and that were on fire and scoring goals, then there was another part of my game that was needed where it was more like a defensive role, disciplined role where I was staying in tight with Hendo and Gini and a lot of running. There were different games and different roles.
You mention running, there's definitely been a lot of running over the last few weeks. Do you feel better from both a footballing sense going into this season but also from a physicality point of view?
It's been hard, it's been tough but it's been good. But when I was off I think this has been the most that I've trained. I know what the season needs from me and know what the team needs, the fans need, the staff need. I'm prepared for that.
Is there a real kind of determination this season to prove to people that we can challenge at the top end of the league, we can push in the Champions League and we can go in the cups as well?
Yeah, definitely. I think even when things weren't going well, I think the teams we were playing against always knew that we had that little bit of a spark and we could always win a game or create out of nothing. This season coming up, I'd definitely say that the boys are fully focused on getting back to the top of their game and winning games and trophies again.