Mark Robins is set to hand Coventry City favourite Jodi Jones a new contract.
The exciting Sky Blues forward, who is out of contract in the summer, was back running at Ryton this week as he continues his recovery from a third knee ligament rupture in the space of three years, and his manager thinks he’s progressing so well that he might even see him in action before the end of the season.
Certainly, Robins is determined to give the popular winger a chance to prove himself at the club after a nightmare spell that started on a cold and damp Tuesday night at Stevenage in November 2017.
Following his recovery from that ACL setback, Jones broke down almost exactly a year later in November 2018 against Peterborough United with a recurring rupture in the same knee.
More than 12 months on again and the lively forward made a tentative return to action against MK Dons in the Football League Trophy before playing a string of Under-23 games to build up his strength and fitness.
COVID-19 then brought a halt to the season, giving the player longer than anticipated to get himself fighting fit ahead of the 2020/21 campaign in the second tier.
But on Friday, September 4, Jones suffered the same injury for a third time, this time to his right knee and the prospect of being out for another nine months.
The 23-year-old posted footage of his return to the grass at Ryton this week, with Robins revealing he’s ahead of schedule.
“It’s brilliant and he’s worked really hard,” the manager told CoventryLive.
“I have had reports from the surgeon and they are all favourable. His head space is good and he’s working really, really hard to get fit.
“There’s a possibility that he might get back to a level where he can play some football before the end of the season, whether he can do that in the Under-23s or in the first team remains to be seen.
“But the fact that he’s ahead of schedule is testament to the work that he’s done. And for someone who has had three of these these injuries, the percentage of him doing it again is down to five per cent, which is down there with anyone who hasn’t done it before.
“That’s testament to the work the surgeon has done and the work Jodi is doing to ensure he mitigates any risk against a recurrence of the injury.”
He added: “While his career has stopped in its tracks because of his injuries, you know there’s a player in there who could potentially become, or regain the ability that he showed prior to the first injury back at Stevenage all those years ago.
“It feels a long time ago but ultimately he’s a player who could end up being a top player for us.”
Jones was being talked about and watched regularly by scouts who flocked to watch City when he was ripping it up in League Two, with then Championship Leeds United hotly tipped to make the Sky Blues a bid they couldn’t refuse in the January 2018 transfer window.
Robins admitted: “We could have lost him.
“Had he not done his injury we would have lost him to the Championship years ago. And the fact that he’s still here, and it’s not great that he’s had his injuries, but we have still got him here and hopefully he can progress and we can progress with him.
“He’s working so hard that he deserves everything, and all the luck going because he’s had no luck at all other than bad.
“So hopefully that can turn for him and we can get the player we know he can be.”
Asked, therefore, if he’s thinking about giving Jones a new contract, Robins said: “Well, that’s a real probabilty.
“Let’s see. I think he deserves some luck, and some good luck at that because he has worked his socks off and each time he’s worked to get himself back it hasn’t quite been right.
“But this time everything points to the fact that everything is in order and he can have a real good go at getting his career moving forward in the right direction where it should be.
“And someone with the natural ability that he has deserves to be playing at least at Championship level.”