IT has not been an easy couple of seasons for Isaiah Jones, with a combination of injury and mental-health issues restricting his time on the field for Middlesbrough. In the last month or so, though, the winger has returned to action to provide a reminder of just what he is capable of at his best.

Surging attacking runs down the right touchline, an ability to beat an opponent one-on-one and a polished delivery into the middle – when it comes to the attributes needed in a wide-attacker, Jones ticks pretty much every box.

Marcus Forss has filled in effectively on the right on occasion this season, with Sammy Silvera also showcasing his versatility by switching to the right-hand side when required, but neither boasts quite the same explosiveness or energy as Jones.

Given the number of injuries Boro have suffered this season, there is inevitably a sense of what might have been as the Teessiders head into the final three matches with their hopes of making the play-offs effectively extinguished. Rank all the absentees alongside each other, however, and the impact of Jones’ injury issues stands out.

The 24-year-old has failed to feature in 11 league matches this term, seven of which Boro failed to win. The statistics back up what the eye suggests. When Jones is playing, Boro are a much better team.

“I think we missed Izzy to a point because he is a good player,” agreed head coach Michael Carrick. “I think we have other good players, so we don’t pin our hopes on anyone, and we believe we have a squad full of depth and we’ve had to call on that a lot this season. I feel we are where we are at the moment because of the strength of our squad, when you consider what we’ve gone through.

“Certainly though, each individual brings their own strengths and we certainly know what Izzy’s strengths are. He’s played really well for the most part. We’ve missed a lot of players in terms of not being available over the course of the season, but we’ve adapted well and made the most of what we can.”


Jones’ dynamism sets him apart, though, and whatever Boro do or do not do in the transfer market this summer, keeping hold of the player they signed from non-leaguers Tooting & Mitcham in 2019 is surely imperative.

Having signed an improved deal in November 2021, Jones is due to enter the final year of his current contract at the Riverside this summer. He has spoken of his desire to remain on Teesside, and discussions over another new deal are likely to come to a head in the close season. Should an agreement prove elusive, the winger will not be short of suitors.

It shouldn’t come to that, with Carrick abundantly aware of Jones’ qualities, and the Boro boss is already looking ahead to what might be improved next season. His tally of three assists in the current campaign can definitely be improved, along with his return of seven goals from 38 appearances in all competitions.

“He’s done well and had a big impact over the course of the season,” said Carrick. “He had a period where he scored a burst of goals. He’s capable of doing that, and probably doing that a little bit more. He’s had an impact in a positive way with his performances though.

“Adding more goals and assists is always the perfect world for any player. That’s not particularly just Izzy individually, it’s the case for any player in general. When we consider Manu and his goals return - front players are all striving for that, they all want to score more goals.

“So that’s something, of course, we’d love to see a lot more of. But he’s doing a lot of good things, and we hope that he keeps doing those good things and, hopefully, he’ll get the rewards for it.”