Jordan Jones says Steve Clarke was key to Northern Ireland call-up
By Jordan Cronin
Last Updated: 21/03/18 12:13pm
Jordan Jones has highlighted the importance of Kilmarnock manager Steve Clarke to his first Northern Ireland international call-up.
The former West Brom boss was appointed at Rugby Park in October after predecessor Lee McCulloch left having failed to win in the opening eight league games of the season, leaving them bottom of the Scottish Premiership.
Clarke has turned Killie's fortunes around with just one defeat in 15 matches, including 10 wins and resulting in a rise to fifth in the league table.
Jones' impressive recent performances have caught the eye Northern Ireland boss Michael O'Neill and the midfielder credits his club manager.
"[Clarke's]'s been vital for me personally and for the team," Jones said.
"It's not just results, we have been getting performances as well, especially against all the big teams - we beat Rangers for instance on Saturday."
"It is testament to what he has done and what he has brought to the squad, not just him but his assistant Alex Dyer as well has been fantastic for the lads. It is a really positive time to be at Kilmarnock right now.
"I think we are really structured. Everyone knows their job. If you go into any dressing room not every player is going to be happy, the players who aren't playing aren't going to be happy.
"(But) the way it is at the moment, even the lads who aren't playing are training as hard as possible to get the lads who are in the team out of the team. That makes a real difference."
Clarke has been linked with the managerial role at Rangers, but Jones hopes Clarke will remain at Rugby Park.
He said: "If you ask any player at Kilmarnock they would all be desperate for him to stay. He's been fantastic for all the lads and fantastic for the club as a whole."
Jones could be in line to make his debut when Northern Ireland take on South Korea on Saturday.
"I think it is a really big compliment and you have to make sure you don't get too excited about those compliments and go out and prove him right," Jones said.
"We spoke the other week about my performances with Kilmarnock and he has been really impressed. Now I want to try and get some minutes."