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Jordan Jones keen for 'brilliant' Michael O'Neill to stay

The Kilmarnock winger was fulsome in his praise after making his Northern Ireland debut.

Boost: Jones made his Northern Ireland debut.
Boost: Jones made his Northern Ireland debut. SNS Group

Kilmarnock's Jordan Jones understands why Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill is the subject of speculation but wants him to stay put as national team boss.

Jones made his international debut in the 0-0 draw with Switzerland as Northern Ireland failed to reach the World Cup via the play-offs.

While delighted at the personal milestone, he said the disappointment of losing on aggregate because of a controversial refereeing call in the first leg was foremost in his mind.

The winger shared his thoughts on O'Neill, who rewarded him for his form with Killie, saying his qualities were there for all to see.

"He's brilliant," Jones told STV. "He's really, really good. I've enjoyed working with him in the short time that we've had and he's a very, very good manager.

"I've been in [plenty of] dressing rooms but the togetherness, everyone is just so close together. That obviously shows on the pitch and it's proven in how far the country has come.

"There's bound to be speculation because of how well he's done. It's testament to himself but his personal career is nothing to do with me."

'There's bound to be speculation because of how well he's done. It's testament to himself but his personal career is nothing to do with me.'
Jordan Jones

Jones understood why other teams would be casting admiring glances in O'Neill's direction but said everyone in the Northern Ireland setup was desperate for him to continue into the Euro 2020 campaign.

"I think if you asked any player in that dressing room then everyone associated with Northern Ireland would want him as their manager," he added.

"He's not just a nice manager, he's a nice person off the pitch as well so everyone wants him to stay and whether he does or not is his call."

As Kilmarnock look ahead to their trip to Dundee on Saturday, Jones also spoke about the impact Steve Clarke had made on the club in his short time in charge so far.

"I think things are going well on a personal level and I think since the new gaffer has come in we're doing really well, playing well and starting to pick results up which is the most important thing," he said.

"I think it's just the way he does things. He's such a presence. Obviously when we heard his name mentioned with the job no one was too sure if he was going to get it because he's such a big name.

"He has and he's proved while he's been here why he has got that big reputation in football. He's been brilliant for the lads on and off the pitch."

He added: "We've worked on our shape a lot, on and off the ball. I think when we went away to Celtic and Rangers there was no better place to go and put that into practice because obviously you're not going to get much of the ball.

"To get two draws in back-to-back games to them is credit to us and credit to the manager."

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