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League Two star is outdoing Salah, Saka and Fernandes despite ACL horror | Football | Sport

There’s good seasons, then there’s the season Jodi Jones is having. The Notts County attacker is in the form of his life and is edging closer to owning a phenomenal record in League Two. Ahead of their showdown with league leaders Stockport County today, Jones has amassed 16 assists from just 24 league matches, per Opta, to go with five goals for the promotion-chasing Magpies.

Notts took headlines last week after an unbelievable 5-5 draw away at Grimsby Town. The Nottinghamshire club trailed 2-0, 3-2 and 4-3 and thought they’d won it at the death through David McGoldrick’s 92nd-minute goal, only to be pegged back in the 95th minute.

Remarkably, Jones walked away with four assists. He was the first player to produce four assists in a single match in English football since Harry Kane. The Tottenham striker did so in a 5-2 Premier League win over Southampton in September 2020.

The all-time record for the most assists in a League Two season is held by Sean McConville, the Accrington Stanley midfielder who managed 17 in the 2016-17 season. Yet Jones is now only one away from matching that and two away from breaking it.

That’s despite the fact the Malta international, who played against England at Wembley last November, still has another 19 league games to play this season. And such is Jones’ form, he’s even outdoing Premier League superstars like Mohamed Salah, Bukayo Saka, Bruno Fernandes, Kieran Trippier and Trent Alexander-Arnold.

Liverpool duo Salah and Alexander-Arnold each have nine assists this season but that is across all competitions, not just in the league. Arsenal’s Saka is on a respectable 12, which still falls short of Jones’ tally, as does Newcastle skipper Trippier’s tally of eight, while Manchester United captain Fernandes is on five at present.

Those players of course play at a higher level than Jones does, but the man from Malta’s phenomenal output certainly deserves recognition. The player himself humbly said after the draw at Grimsby: “I can only thank my team-mates and all the staff that help me every single day. It’s a position I probably wouldn’t have played in if I didn’t come to Notts County.

“I used to play on the right quite a lot, cutting inside as a typical left-footer. I can only thank the staff and all the players around me because they believe in me and give me the ball in areas where they know I can do damage. Four assists is a good thing. That’s 16 for the season, not that I’m counting!”

Jones’ story is even more incredible because he suffered three anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries in as many years between 2017 and 2020. The 26-year-old’s career was in serious danger after his fitness woes curtailed his time at Coventry City. He went 1,908 days without starting a league match.

In total, he missed 130 games due to three operations that meant he went over five years between starting for Coventry in League Two and Notts County in the National League. He only joined County on loan from Oxford United in January last year.

His turnaround in the 12 months since then has been quite amazing. He scored a last-minute extra-time winner against Boreham Wood to send Notts to Wembley for the National League promotion final. It was his first strike in 1,662 days.

He then scored in the penalty shootout against Chesterfield under the arch, making it 3-2 to his team on spot-kicks (they won 4-3). That was despite being released by Oxford just days earlier. Luke Williams, the manager who has just left to take over Swansea City, called Jones a “Notts County hero” after that promotion triumph.

The loan man went on to sign a two-year permanent contract to stay at Meadow Lane later the same month. “We know how determined Jodi is to progress from here,” Williams added after the agreement was inked.

The progress he’s made this season, even Jones himself probably never expected. He’s even on course to outdo the 20 assists managed by both Kevin De Bruyne and Thierry Henry – the current Premier League record for the most in one season – and how beautiful a bookmark in the forward’s rollercoaster story it would be if he ever got to play in England’s top flight.

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