The promising Rangers verdict on Jordan Jones - and a permanent transfer prediction that will have Sunderland fans excited
A consistent run of games could see Jordan Jones rediscover his best form at Sunderland.
That’s the verdict of Stephen Halliday of the Scotsman, who believes the wideman should be more than capable of making an impact at the Stadium of Light.
And he believes a permanent move in the summer could yet be a possibility if the move proves to be a successful one.
Halliday, who covers Rangers, has seen Jones at close quarters since he made the move to Ibrox in 2019.
So we asked him to provide the inside track on Sunderland’s winter addition, what went wrong at Rangers and what the future could hold:
An early defining moment
Jones was hot property when he was snapped up by Rangers in January 2019, as he signed a pre-contract agreement before making the move in teh summer of the same year.
Eye-catching displays had put him on the radar of a number clubs – including, if reports at the time are to be believed, Sunderland.
But it was Rangers who won the race, much to the delight of manager Steven Gerrard.
"He'd done well against Rangers and was quite an eye-catching player at the time, so it was seen as a good signing,” explains Halliday.
"Steven Gerrard was quite enthusiastic about it and gave him a couple of starts early doors.”
But his early promise was halted after his first appearance in an Old Firm derby, which certainly didn’t go to plan.
"He came on in the first Old Firm game of that season,” recalls Halliday.
"He's a boyhood Rangers fan and I think he was just adrenaline fuelled and committed a bad challenge.
"They were losing the game already 2-0 and it he got a straight red card for a bad tackle on Moritz Bauer. Not only did he get sent-off, he got injured in the process and had a bad knee injury that kept him out until the December.”
"By the time he got fit, there wasn't really a place for him,” he continued.
"He made a few substitute appearances, but I don't think he ever really recovered from that.”
Having struggled for opportunities in the 2019/20 season, the new campaign brought fresh opportunities for Jones.
"This season there was a hint he may force his way back him,” explains Halliday.
"He played against Motherwell in September - that came as a bit of a surprise - but Gerrard said after the game that he'd been doing really well in training.
"He played really well, scored his first goal for Rangers, and put in a really eye-catching performance. Gerrard said that was the real Jordan Jones, the player he wanted to see, and hoped he could kick on.”
But his hopes of kicking-on were scuppered after Jones and teammate George Edmundson were handed seven-game bans for a breach of COVID protocols, leaving Jones once again searching for first-team football.
Then along came Sunderland…
What to expect
So what can Sunderland fans expect from their latest recruit?
"He's played mostly on the left, e's quick and when he's on it he's very direct and can beat a man,” says Halliday.
"The quality of his delivery can be inconsistent, but his best moment for Rangers was probably when he came on against Legia Warsaw in the Europa League play-off last season. The game was in the balance and he delivers an absolutely brilliant cross and Morelos scores. That was a small moment, but it was a sight of what he is capable of.
"Unfortunately for him, various circumstances have combined and he's not had the chance to show it on a more consistent basis – but he's got plenty in his locker definitely.”
Jones hasn’t played a senior game since October 25, and has played just five times during the current campaign.
And Halliday feels a consistent run of games will be required for the winger to recapture his best form at Sunderland – but is confident he can make an impact in League One.
"I think he should be able to operate at that level,” he said.
"He should be capable of making an impact and he's played games at a good level.
"It's up to him now to kick on and show his potential. He needs regular game time, and I think that's the key if he can get a consistent run of games. This is a good opportunity for him.”
What does the future hold?
Provided Jones hits the performance levels hoped for, questions will soon turn to what the future holds.
Sunderland fans, many of whom have been left enthused by the signing of the winger, could well hope a permanent deal is on the cards.
That will depend on a number of factors, not least what division the Black Cats find themselves in, but Halliday believes such a move could be a possibility with opportunities looking limited at Ibrox.
"It looks difficult for him, I would say.
"You never say never - but I think if it works out for both parties and there's the possibility of a permanent deal then Rangers wouldn't be too opposed to that.”
But for now, the focus will be on Jones producing the goods in the short-term.
The winger could make his Sunderland debut at MK Dons in the Papa John’s Trophy on Tuesday evening – and fans will no doubt be watching with intrigue if that is the case.