Jones will be 'eternally grateful' for the opportunity at Cobblers after 'frustrating' two years
Striker had not played in over a year before coming off the bench in midweek
When Alex Jones received confirmation of a contract offer from the Cobblers last week, his overriding emotion was one of relief.
The 26-year-old striker had spent six months out of the game after his contract at Partick Thistle expired in June. Before coming off the bench at Charlton in midweek, his last professional appearance was over a year ago.
He rejected offers in the summer – something he later regretted – and looked set to spend a whole season away from the game until he was invited to train by Jon Brady.
“It was a massive relief,” Jones admitted. “I’ve had a difficult two years really. My career was on the up and I was doing really well, scoring lots of goals in League One.
“But then I had trouble with injuries and my career kind of stalled a bit. Obviously COVID came along and that didn’t help me either.
“In hindsight, I should have taken the offers that I had in the summer.
“I didn’t want to rush into anything but with COVID and the way football has been this season, I got to Christmas and still hadn’t signed anywhere so I was frustrated.”
After impressing Brady in training, Jones was offered a contract until the end of the season only last Monday.
He added: “I knew if I kept myself fit and kept myself ticking over that something would come up and I’ll be eternally grateful to the staff at the club for giving me this opportunity to get back into the game first and foremost.
“Just to get even get on the pitch on Tuesday meant a lot and personally I’m obviously delighted and all my family are pleased because it has been a difficult period of my life and my career.
“Those are the ups and downs of football and you just have to keep going and keep working hard.”
Jones not only got on the pitch at Charlton, he bagged his first Town goal with a terrific glancing header from Mark Marshall’s corner deep into stoppage-time.
The former Port Vale and Bradford City man looked sharp during his brief cameo at The Valley and will be hoping for more game-time when Town head to Doncaster Rovers on Saturday, although much depends on his fitness following so long out of the game.
“I was delighted to get on and score but it’s a bit of a catch 22,” Jones explained. “You can’t start because you’re not match fit but you’re not match fit because you’re not playing games. I’m only going to get fitter the more minutes I play.
“The gaffer said previously that they’ll take their time with me because I haven’t played a lot of football in the last six months. Everyone needs to be sensible in that respect and gradually drip feed me in.
"But I want to play as soon as I can. If I was asked to start tomorrow and play 90 minutes, I would say yes.
“But that wouldn’t be sensible and it wouldn’t be clever but hopefully in the next couple of weeks I’ll be more than fit enough to start games.”