Jones gains strength from Boro boo-boys
HE might have had to endure more than his fair share of criticism from the Riverside Stadium's boo-boys in the last few years, but Brad Jones has emerged a stronger character after fearing for his Middlesbrough future. The Australian goalkeeper has struggled to win over supporters after succeeding compatriot Mark Schwarzer at the start of last season. He even had to contend with jeers when his name was read out in a pre-match warmup. It was a situation that culminated in Gordon Strachan's decision to drop him in the aftermath of the defeat to Newcastle on December 20, when the experienced Danny Coyne was preferred for most of January and February. However, despite knowing the vast majority of Middlesbrough fans would have been happy to see him move on, Jones has returned to action after a shock recall and turned in some of his best displays for the club. The 28-year-old has tried to blot out the knocks he has received from the stands, but it has saddened him because he only ever wanted to succeed after moving to the North- East from his native Armadale, Down Under. It's football, you have a couple of good games and you are everyone's hero, said Jones, who is likely to be retained against Sheffield Wednesday this afternoon. You have a couple of bad games and then everyone hates you. That's the way it goes. Sometimes it's disappointing and it does make you question your future, where you want to go. I have been here 12 years now, I came when I was 16 and I'm still seen as the foreigner. But I have lived in the area for that long. All of my mates are Middlesbrough supporters, from the area. I have stayed at the club throughout that time and I have enjoyed being here. I'm not going to leave for a couple of boos, but it can hurt. Despite feeling harshly treated by sections of the Riverside support, Jones has felt revived since returning to the team on February 9, when he made a number of saves to help Middlesbrough claim a 1- 1 draw against Reading. His hard work in training has clearly paid off. Not only did it convince Strachan to recall him to the starting line-up at the expense of Coyne, it also brought the best out of the player, highlighted by his penalty save at Plymouth on Easter Monday. I have had to put up with a bit of stick this season and I'm still playing. Still here. I have probably played my best few games in the last few weeks, he said. There are certain things that you have to get on with, blank it out or struggle. I had a few people saying to me don't worry about this, don't worry about that'. It wasn't a case of that, it was just that I wanted to play. My game is always on an edge. I always come out for crosses and I will get hit now and again and drop a ball. I try to clean up behind defenders and occasionally things might happen. You get criticised for it. Only time will tell whether Jones' recall has arrived at the right time. He was watched by Australia's assistant coach Henk Duut last Saturday and hopes to become one of the three goalkeepers named in his country's World Cup squad. He has no idea whether he will be going to South Africa, but it is much more likely than it was six weeks ago. It's been a while since I was in a squad but there has not been too many camps either, said Jones. It would be great for Middlesbrough to have three players at the World Cup, myself, Scott McDonald and Chris Killen. My chance had gone when I wasn't playing. If I am not playing I won't be going. I knew that. That's why I was doubly disappointed. It was one of those things. It was more motivation to get back in. As long as I am in the team I'm not bothered. I'm just happy to be back in the team having a run and hopefully I can impress the national team manager enough to go to the World Cup. The national manager has said that if you're not playing you won't be going.' Straight forward, I knew I wasn't going then, now I'm in the team and I think I'm doing enough to prove I am good enough to go.
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