Jamie Jones has revealed the secret behind Wigan Athletic’s first clean sheet in almost two months – constant chit-chat!
The 29-year-old was handed his first league start between the sticks for Saturday’s visit of Aston Villa, and repaid Paul Cook’s faith with a shut-out in the 3-0 win.
Jones says the No.1 shirt is now his to lose, with on-loan Brighton custodian Christian Walton now in the unfamiliar position of playing catch-up.
But the much-travelled stopper is hoping the gift of the gab could tip things his way.
“I like to talk a lot through the 90 minutes, and it might mostly be rubbish, but I speak a hell of a lot and it keeps us going,” Jones told the Wigan Post.
“I’m always talking, always encouraging, always giving advice, always helping out.
“And it might give the defensive lads five per cent more about their game.
“But that five per cent could be the difference between a goal and not, between a clearance or not, between time on the ball and not.
“That’s what I tried to bring on Saturday, and what I’ll continue to try and bring as long as I’m in the team.”
Having been restricted to a watching brief for most of the season, Jones took full advantage of a chance in the FA Cup clash at West Brom on January 5.
And a fine display at the Hawthorns was rewarded with the coveted starting position in the league.
“It was good to get back out there,” Jones acknowledged.
“I’d done well the week before in the FA Cup, and the gaffer’s decided to make the change for the league.
“It’s made a good effect on the team, and the back, and thankfully we’ve got the clean sheet and the three points.
“I knew last Friday I was playing, the goalie coach had a word and we did some work on shape.
“But I always prepare as though I’m playing anyway – you have to being a goalkeeper – so it was nothing out of the ordinary.
“And it was especially nice to get the nod because of what I’ve been doing in training and in games, not because of an injury or suspension or default.
“It’s credit to me for that and for the manager for going with it.
“I’ve waited for my chance in the league, I’ve taken it and hopefully I can keep it going for as long as I can.
“It’s my shirt to lose as far as I’m concerned, and I want to keep playing for as long as I can.”
Jones didn’t have a great deal to do against Villa, with the visitors being kept at arm’s length thanks to the effective barrier provided by the defence.
Not even an early mix-up between Jones and Cedric Kipre – which resulted in Tammy Abraham firing inches wide of the post – knocked the backline out of their stride.
“You can’t allow stuff like that to get to you,” Jones added.
“We’ve lost eye contact at the worst possible moment, I’ve rolled the ball out just as he decides to try and take up a better position.
“I held my hands up straight away, I took responsibility for it, and you can’t dwell on stuff like that.
“Goalkeeping’s such a cut-throat industry, and usually you get punished for every single mistake you make.
“Thankfully we didn’t, and we took full advantage of that to win the game.”
Jones could be significantly busier over the next couple of weeks, with Latics – who have won only once on the road all season – facing back-to-back trips to Sheffield Wednesday and Notttingham Forest.
“They’re all tough games in this league – there’s not one game you’d say: ‘I fancy us this week’,” Jones added.
“Last year it was the complete opposite – there weren’t many weeks when you didn’t fancy us to win.
“This is such a tough league – some big teams, big grounds, big challenges.
“And we’ve competed with every side so far and given them a game.
“There’s not been too many who’ve turned us over, and that means we go into every game believing we can be competitive.”