Confirmed rule change should benefit Liverpool star who was robbed of golden chance by injury

Curtis Jones of Liverpool during a training session at AXA Training Centre on May 02, 2024 in Kirkby, England
Liverpool trains ahead of its game against Spurs. -Credit:John Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images

Liverpool wouldn't have expected to be on the beach at this point in the season. Only a few weeks ago, it looked like the Premier League title race would at the very least go to the wire, while a place in Dublin for the Europa League final beckoned too.

Nonetheless, Jürgen Klopp now finds his last three Liverpool games essentially shorn of competitive stakes. Results could still impact other teams, with the race for the European spots below the Champions League places one of the more intriguing storylines still in play, but the Reds are effectively guaranteed to finish third.

Hopefully, with the pressure off, Liverpool can defy the old 'on the beach' adage and actually put in some improved performances. For the sake of pride, if nothing else, the Klopp era should not end on a string of meek defeats and limp draws.

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And this summer, the beach is purely metaphorical for a number of players, with the European Championships and Copa América set to take place. Liverpool will have numerous representatives at both tournaments.

The club has a strong South American contingent, with Alexis Mac Allister, Luis Díaz and Darwin Núñez all in line to feature in the USA. Meanwhile, there are plenty preparing for the Euros.

In the England squad, however, there are likely to be fewer Liverpool stars than in days gone by. Trent Alexander-Arnold is probably the only one guaranteed to be on the plane, and even he has had a rocky relationship with the national side.

There was a call-up for Joe Gomez during the last round of internationals, resuming a long-suspended England career after Gareth Southgate was impressed with his Liverpool form. He has a good chance of making the squad as a versatile option across the back line, with those prospects increasing after it was confirmed by UEFA earlier today that countries would be allowed to bring 26 players rather than 23.

But there's another wildcard Liverpool player who could also benefit from this rule change — one who has not even been capped for England yet. Curtis Jones is long overdue an opportunity.

At the start of his England tenure, Southgate drew praise for the pipeline he created from the U21s, where he had previously been manager. But he has had a tendency to stick with those old favorites — and when he has called up young talent, it has been independent of the national team setup, with Kobbie Mainoo bypassing the under-21 stage altogether.

Perhaps it's little wonder, then, that Jones has not been recognized for his captain's performances, leading the U21 side to Euros glory last summer. That was the last tournament for which he was eligible, and a step up into the senior side seemed only natural.

But despite increased prominence at Liverpool, the call-up has still not been forthcoming. Jones remains uncapped at senior level.

However, Southgate was prepared to finally change that in the last international break. Per This is Anfield, he revealed that he had been tracking Jones 'very closely' before an untimely injury robbed him of his chance to make the squad.

It would have been a golden opportunity to impress Southgate in the camp immediately preceding the Euros. Missing out means Jones' prospects for the tournament look slim. But with the manager afforded three extra players, the Liverpool man certainly deserves to come under renewed consideration.

It should go without saying that Jones deserves a place ahead of former Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson, although Southgate looks intent on picking the veteran. Likewise, Klopp's midfielder has done more than Mainoo to earn a chance, and you could make the case for him over March inclusion James Maddison as well.

But with the extra places, maybe nobody has to make way for Jones. It's rare indeed to debut for your country at a major tournament, but Southgate's squad would look stronger with the Liverpool man in it, and this rule change could finally be the stroke of luck he's been after.