‘No reason why we can’t stay involved’ – James Jones talks Lincoln City move and possible top six challenge

Credit Graham Burrell

Midfielder James Jones believe that the Imps are capable of a promotion challenge, but also claimed it is still early days in the hunt for a place in the Championship.

The 24-year-old bagged his first league goal of the season at the weekend against Rochdale, making him one of only three players who has bagged in three competitions this season. Jones, known as Jonah, also netted in the FA Cup against Forest Green, and the League Cup against Bradford, having made 22 appearances since joining from Crewe in the summer. It is also worth remembering he bagged the penalty which helped us beat Scunthorpe in the EFL Trophy’s opening game, but as it came in a shoot out it doesn’t allow him to match Scully’s record of scoring in all four competitions

A former Scotland Under 21 international, Jonah came through the Crewe academy which has produced so many good players over the years. Indeed, having been at Gresty Road since ta young age, moving to Sincil Bank in the summer was a tough call.

“It was a big decision to leave Crewe,” he told me earlier this week ahead of his piece in this weekend’s programme. “I’d been there since I was seven, it was always going to be a big decision to leave and it wasn’t one I took lightly. It just felt like the right time for me, the right time in my career to move on.”

It had to be an exciting challenge which drew him away from a club he gave almost 20 years to, and so it proved.

“The proposition from Lincoln really excited me, the project here was something I wanted to be a part of. I saw the ambition of the club and I knew about the previous success and momentum. The gaffer was a big part of it too, what he brings to the table was important. He has faith in young players and wants to develop them and that ethos appealed to me.”

Credit Graham Burrell

It didn’t just appeal to Jonah either – several new faces arrived in a summer overhaul which, at first at least, had some fans worrying about a lack of connection and familiarity. That might have been a concern off the pitch, but behind the scenes, things settled well.

“In the summer, the recruitment was great too, the lads are all good characters, team players and grafters. As a player, that is the sort of squad you want to be a part of. Everything about Lincoln was right for me. It was a big decision, but it was a no-brainer when everything was considered.”

The recruitment policy has proven to be masterful from the management team, with the Imps through to the last 16 of the EFL Trophy and, more importantly, second in the league table. Jonah is keen to make sure that the squad remains grounded and focused, rather than making bold statements and promises.

“It’s still early days, you have seen in the past when teams have shot off like a rocket and got ahead of themselves, but if we keep doing what we have been doing, there is no reason why we can’t stay involved in the promotion challenge. We just have to keep doing things the right way, not get carried away and who knows. Hopefully, as it’s been a great start, long may it continue.”

With fans on the cusp of a Sincil Bank return, the opportunity to see this swashbuckling team in action might finally come around. We’re enjoying watching such complete team performances from a talented squad, and it seems that enjoyment is just as crucial on the field too.

Credit Graham Burrell

“It’s enjoyable when you play in a team full of grafters when you know the other lads have your back and when you put a shift in, they’re going to be doing the same too. When everyone is on it, we have shown with the start we have had that we can pick up points.”

With Sunderland and Shrewsbury at home in the space of four days, few would back against City picking up three, if not four or six points by this time next week, keeping the pressure on Hull City at the top of the League One table.

As for Jonah, you can read more of his thoughts in the Sunderland programme, including extra sessions after training, why Crewe do produce such a good level of young player and which current teammate he would love to put through a Bush tucker trial on that jungle program everybody seems to love.