Struggling with a groin injury, U.S. men’s international Jermaine Jones has yet to make an appearance for Besiktas since moving on loan from Schalke last month. Add in Germany’s winter break and the lack of playing time he saw during his last days in Gelsenkirchen and a presumed starter come June 16 in Natal hasn’t played a minute in two months. While there’s plenty of time for Jones to round into form, any glitches in the U.S. National Team machinery are sure to send fans’ heads spinning. After all, the World Cup now only four months away.
We’ll indulge that paranoia in a moment. First, let’s get some perspective on what Jones is going through in Istanbul.
The 32-year-old went on loan to the Turkish Süper Lig team on Jan. 28 but has yet to register a minute for Slaven Bilic’s second place club. On Thursday, however, the club reported Jones was due to resume full training, opening the possibility he could feature during Sunday’s visit from mid-table Bursaspor. Instead, Jones was again held out from Besiktas’s 18, with the Black Eagles’ not in action again until next Saturday’s derby at Galatasaray.
By all indications, Jones is close to a return, and presuming he can claim time from Manuel Fernandes, Veli Kavlak, Oguzhan Ozyakup, and Atiba Hutchinson, the move will help him stay in shape ahead of the U.S,’s pre-tournament camp in May. But what if, with Besiktas now looking to edge Gala for the league’s second spot, Jones can’t get the playing time we’re presuming? Or what i this groin injury sidelines him for a little bit longer? When should U.S. fans start to worry that Jermaine Jones isn’t getting the work he needs before Brazil?
It’s a complete hypothetical, but if you are incline to worry, don’t look at how long it’s been since he last played. Look at how long he has to round himself into shape if he returned tomorrow.
If he is back in the lineup next week and makes his debut in a huge Istanbul derby, Jones is looking at three months of consistent action before he joins the U.S. That’s fine. Especially considering he made 14 league (and a number of Champions League) appearances with Schalke, it’s not like he’s trying to go from 0 to 60.
If Jones misses another month, though? Or, if he’s unable to claim a regular spot once he returns to health? It’s more questionable territory, and at some point, Jurgen Klinsmann’s loyalty to one of his favorite players will be tested. Is a potentially rusty Jermaine Jones better than a full strength Kyle Beckerman or Mix Diskerud?
Based on how Klinsmann’s used Jones in the past, it would take a lot of rust to keep the German-born American out of the lineup – so little that it may take Jones a couple weeks’ game to get to a point where he would start for the U.S. Even if he missed two months, Jones would still be the favorite to start along side Michael Bradley in Brazil.
Thankfully, it’s unlikely to be an issue. All indications are Besiktas are looking forward to getting their U.S. international into the team. Any worries about Jones not getting time in Turkey are likely to remain hypotheticals.