It might be March, but silly season never truly ends.
A couple of outlets have latched onto a rumor claiming Steve Bruce sent chief Aston Villa scout Tony Coton to Holland recently to watch Feyenoord goalkeeper Brad Jones. Yes, the same former Liverpool understudy Brad Jones, now 35.
Jones, an Australia international, is currently with the Socceroos for a pair of friendlies against Norway and Colombia, in preparation for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. He’s been a long time reserve goalkeeper down under, first for the now-retired Mark Schwarzer and recently, Brighton’s Mat Ryan. He is a good bet to make Bert van Marwijk’s final 23-man squad in Russia this summer.
While he’s a long-time call-up on the international stage, it is his club career that is more interesting. Jones is most notable for his five seasons at Liverpool, shuffling between spot starter, understudy, and #3 on the goalkeeping depth charts from 2010-2015. He was released in the summer of 2015 and subsequently signed for Bradford City in England’s third division…He played a grand total of three league matches before he was released by mutual consent that October.
A new year beckoned and Jones had the opportunity to play in the Netherlands. He signed a six-month deal with N.E.C. (Nijmegen) in the Eredivisie. After 17 impressive appearances, Jones signed a one-year deal with powerhouse Feyenoord that summer. The club’s 2016/2017 campaign was nothing short of incredible as the club won the Dutch league for the first time since 1998-1999, with Jones manning between the sticks. His performance warranted a two-year extension.
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This season, however, has been a slightly different story. Feyenoord regressed back to the mean, currently sitting 4th in the Eredivisie, a whopping 23 points adrift of league leaders PSV Eindhoven. Now rumors are circulating that Jones wants to return to England where he spent the bulk of his playing career.
As such, Aston Villa seem to be one such club interested.
Brad Jones is a contingency plan, plain and simple. Villa likely will not be able to afford Sam Johnstone playing in the EFL Championship again next season. Jones could come on the cheap and provide something like league-average production coupled with Jed Steer. It is not a perfect scenario, but neither is playing in the second tier again.
For what it is worth, the rumor is pretty unsubstantiated at this point, any way. Per WhoScored, Jones has been pretty average this season. Though, I add, judging goalkeepers can be a fickle art. Jones made five starts in the UEFA Champions League before Feyenoord were eliminated in the group stages.