Jones back in the groove for Linnets after untimely break
- Credit: Ian Burt
King's Lynn Town are on FA Trophy duty at Alfreton on Saturday afternoon - Chris Lakey spoke to defender Aaron Jones, for whom Saturday afternoons playing football have a little extra meaning
Aaron Jones would have been the most relieved man at The Walks when the Linnets' on-off game this weekend was given the go-ahead.
Jones doesn’t need any more untimely breaks, having returned for the home draw with Torquay seven days ago after a 10-game absence with a knee injury.
The interruption to his season was untimely because Jones was playing as well as he ever has done, having moved to The Walks in August 2018.
“I was obviously really frustrated because I think it was the best five games of form that I have had since I have been in a Lynn shirt,” said the 26-year-old.
“This is obviously my third season now and I felt like I have come back flying pre-season, I felt really fit, I felt really strong and I had a good pre-season and then rolled into Yeovil obviously got man of the match and played really well and got the winner away at Maidenhead and again felt really sharp. Even in the games that we have lost I felt that I was playing well and I was in a good patch of form and then that happens and then you just think, ‘why now?’. But this is football, you can’t get too low with the lows and you can’t get too high with the highs – you have just got to try and stay level throughout. I did my hard work and did my rehab and we are back, finally, so it is good.”
Watching from the stands isn’t Jones’ thing... anyone who’s seen him will know that he kicks every ball and tends to spend most of the game on his feet, encouraging - or otherwise - his team-mates out on the pitch.
“I’m terrible, you can probably hear me in the stands,” he says with a smile. “I think Carol, the physio, will probably confirm this, that I am the worst person to be injured in the squad because I am just so impatient and I just want to kick and head every ball while I am watching the game. I have come in and done as much as I can, I have been in every Monday and Tuesday during the day, taken time off work and every Thursday doing the rehab. I have seen a specialist in Norwich as well, which I have been paying for out of my own pocket, so I just wanted to get back, I miss it more than anything, it leaves a big hole in your life when you are not playing.”
Jones himself readily admits that his form during his first two seasons at The Walks has been acceptable - but perhaps not eyebrow-raising. This season he has hit a whole new level - and there’s an old-fashioned reason why: hard work.
“I think in a way the lockdown probably helped me because I look back on my form when we were in the Southern Central Prem and Conference North and I was playing okay, probably six, seven out of 10 most weeks and solid, but then I just went away and sort of thought, ‘what can I be doing to put myself in a better position to play and to get to those eight and nines out of 10 that you need to help the team?’ So I thought, if I can get stronger in my legs then that would be something, I would be more powerful and more explosive and so I went away in the lockdown and spent about two or three months and lived in the gym doing squats, deadlifts, all that kind of stuff and then when it came to pre-season that is probably the hardest that I have worked pre-season to make sure I am sharp and on the ball as well because I feel like this year when I receive the ball, my first thought is, right, how can I play forward? How can I affect the game? Whereas maybe last year and the year before I was maybe thinking play safe, be solid, keep the ball. But now when I receive the ball in an advanced position it is like, right, what can we do? How can we affect the game positively?
“I think it is just a bit of a shift in mentality, maybe like I say, a little bit more powerful in my legs and obviously playing in a higher league you lift your standards as well because you are playing against better opposition, so I am sure there are a few culminating factors, but I just want to time it now to try and get back to the level that I was playing at before I was injured because obviously you spend too long out and even Saturday I felt like I did alright but I wasn’t perhaps at the level that I was before I got injured.”
Jones couldn’t have chosen a tougher return than at home to National League leaders Torquay United, who had scored in every game this season. The goalless draw was unexpected - but gratefully received.
“I had two full training sessions before Saturday so needless to say I was blowing out my backside after half an hour,” Jones said. “I thought, ‘how am I going to get through 90?’ - that was going through my head! And I just got a second wind just before half-time and in the second half I felt much better.”
That’s why Jones is thankful to be playing again on Saturday afternoon, even though as we spoke during the week it was touch and go. The Linnets were due to meet the winners of the tie between Alfreton and Bedford Town, which was postponed on Tuesday because of a positive Covid test in the Bedford camp. More followed, and Bedford - managed by former Lynn boss Gary Setchell, forfeited, meaning Lynn head to Alfreton.