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Jones hails Clarke influence

Billy Jones is delighted to have broken the mould in West Bromwich Albion's cosmopolitan dressing room - but admits it took a rocket from head coach Steve Clarke to inspire the weekend salvage act against Newcastle United.

The Midlands' top team looked destined for a third successive defeat until the right-back stole forward in open play to drive home a left-foot shot that made him the first Englishman to score for them this season.

Jones totalled 22 goals in his spells with Crewe and Preston and gives the impression of a man who is embarrassed at having had to wait until almost his 50th Albion game for his first goal.

"I feel I should have had more goals," he said. "This should have come a lot sooner. I've fluffed a few chances, so I'm relieved to have got this one and hope I can go on and get a few more now.

"I was aware of the English 'stat' and I'm happy to take the 'crown'. The kit-man had made a shirt for Liam Ridgewell saying something like 'I'm English and I've scored'. He didn't have any faith in me. He didn't make me one up.

"Liam's a bit disappointed that we don't get the call to go up at corners because he has scored some goals from them. But we have to do our job standing back, looking in."

Jones might well have earned Albion a penalty just before half-time when he won a free-kick for a James Perch tackle that was clearly inside the area. But he acknowledged that the turning point was Clarke's half-time address that helped wrestle control from the visitors.

"He sets such high standards and doesn't accept anything else," Jones added. "He said how disappointed he was at half-time. He said he didn't associate with performances like that.

"If you go below those standards, it's unacceptable. We knew the first half was not good enough. The second half was much more like us. He told us what to do and we took that on board.

"Everyone would agree he has done well. It was a hard job taking over from Roy Hodgson, so he has got to be made up with where we are in his first season.

"We talk each week about reaching 50 points, finishing in the top eight and having a record number of points for this club in the Premier League. All those things are still achievable."

Jones was preferred on Saturday to the more experienced Steven Reid and has emerged as a regular over more than a month and a half. All told, he has played 26 times this season and is content with the personal progress he is making.

"The main thing for me was to feel like a Premier League player and I have learned with the more games I have played," he said. "I just want to carry on improving.

"It was a case of proving it to myself. A lot of Championship players feel ready to make that step up - maybe if they play well against a Premier League team in the cup. But I have played a good few Premier League games now - and on the bounce. I'm not established but I have improved."


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