Ex-Hibs defender still has the passion to play for Hartlepool United

Rob Jones gets the better of Tom Eastman (right). Picture by FRANK REID
Rob Jones gets the better of Tom Eastman (right). Picture by FRANK REID
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Rob Jones does the simple things well as a defender – he heads, he tackles and he clears.

And there is a simple philosophy to his football outlook – he just wants to play.

If I didn’t want to play then I would just pack in, but the passion is there for me

ROB JONES

The 36-year-old was perhaps a surprise starter in Saturday’s League Two showdown with Colchester United at the Northern Gas & Power Stadium.

It had looked near enough a cert that Craig Hignett would pair summer signing Toto Nsiala with the old head who brought the best out of Adam Jackson last season, Matthew Bates.

Instead, the Pools bos plumped for the skyscraper central defensive formation of Nsiala and Jones.

Jones now hopes to line up against Preston North End in the EFL Cup tonight, though is well aware Hignett may decide to make changes, with Bates possibly in line to start at Deepdale.

“Every footballer wants to play,” said Jones .

“I don’t want to miss out.

“If I didn’t want to play then I would just pack in. The passion is there for me.

“I’m the oldest statesman in the team at almost 37, but if that excitement and enthusiasm wanes then I’d call it a day.

“But it’s there, I’m very passionate about playing my part.

“I want to play as many games as possible, but I also know there are a lot of players at the club who are the same!

“It’s a squad game, it’s not a team game anymore, it’s about having a squad of players who can all contribute.”

Jones and Nsiala did pretty well, especially considering it was only their second outing as a unit.

The ‘elder statesman’, his words not ours, bailed out his young partner after an early mistake but the Teessider said he’s impressed with the summer capture, from Grimsby Town.

“I wasn’t due to play last week against Scunthorpe, but with Matthew being ill I got in,” said Jones.

“It was the first time I played alongside Toto.

“He’s a young boy with a lot of talent.

“As he grows into the club and the team you will see him getting better and better.”

And Jones says there is no shortage of talent throughout the club and he enjoys being a part of it.

“I love going into training every day, the build-up to a match, I love playing,” he said.

“I love helping the younger ones, that’s a big plus for me, people listen to me, or rather I make people listen to me!

“There’s may be a difference there!

“I love being here, it’s a good football club, with a great atmosphere – there is some very exciting talent at the club, not just in the team, but on the bench and in the stands.

“The future’s very good for this club.”

Jones insists it’s not all about the quality of the players but the spirit counting as well, especially after the “disappointment” of the failure to beat Colchester at the weekend.

“We have a very good, tight-knit squad and we are all in it together,” said the much-travelled former Hibs and Sheffield Wednesday centre-half.

“There are pats on the back when we’ve done well and we’ll pick each other up when it hasn’t.

“We’ll move on as a group.”

The “move on” tonight will not be easy – Pools take on a mid-table Sky Bet Championship team who finished 52 places higher up the English football ladder back in May.

But Jones is in no mood to concede defeat.

“It is a tough one, but you never know do you?” he said

“It’s a game of football, 11 against 11. Whoever turns up best on the night wins nine times out of 10

“We go there with excitement.”

Jones hopes he has done enough to retain his place but understands if he does not.

“We have four or five very good centre-halves at the club,” said the ex-Doncaster stopper who says he will rest and recover well and then keep his fingers crossed.

“You hope it’s a case of if you play well, you stay in.

“I’ll look to be recovered and ready.

“We are all professional footballers and I’ve been in the game long enough to know what I need to do.”