NIA JONES is hoping her performance in Doncaster will lead to more chances in the first team as a “frustrating season” edges towards its conclusion.
Wales international Jones was handed her first start since April and scored in the 4-1 win over Doncaster Rovers Belles last time out.
But having only been named in the starting 11 three times all campaign, Jones admits it has been difficult to watch on from the sidelines.
“It has been a frustrating season on a personal level,” the striker told The Wokingham Paper.
“I do feel like I would’ve liked to have contributed more.
“I feel there were some games where my presence would’ve really benefited the team.
“But obviously I’m always going to say that and I’ve always got to believe that as an athlete.
“I’m in constant talks with the management team and they know what I can do.
“I’m grateful that they gave me the opportunity against Doncaster and I just hope that I showed a little bit more of the effect I can have on the team if they trust me with that role.”
As well as being a professional footballer, Jones has previously represented her country at netball in the Commonwealth Games before joining Royals in July 2015.
And she has further shown her versatility, switching from a centre-back when first arriving to now battling the likes of Jade Boho Sayo and Helen Ward for the number nine spot up front.
“For the past five or six months I’ve been working as a striker,” explained Jones.
“I’ve been working really hard and during sessions learning a lot off Jade and Helen and I’ve been having individual sessions away from training with Phil (Cousins) on his own.
“It’s something I’m passionate about at the minute.
“I feel like I’ve got all the attributes to be a good target player.
“To get our more skilful and faster players such as Brutes (Lauren Bruton) and (Emma) Follis on the ball I think I complement the way they play.
“I’m hoping that I can get a few more minutes towards the end of the season and next year as well, that would be great.”
Jones bagged the second goal in the win over Belles, a victory which edged Reading to the brink of avoiding relegation, after a well-worked free-kick routine.
And the 24-year-old says it was nice to see it pay off, albeit with a slightly unorthodox finish.
“We’d watched some footage of a free-kick we thought might be of benefit to us,” she explained.
“We knew Donny wouldn’t have seen it because we haven’t used it so far this season.
“We practised it in set plays the day before and Phil said if one comes up around the edge of the box, then just try it.
“It was great quick thinking from the girls who set it up and Brutes slipped it to Fletch (Melissa Fletcher) really well.
“I’ve just been told to follow everything in in the six yard box and luckily it ricocheted off my hip and went in so I’ll take it!”
The improvised finish cued an unusual celebration as Jones held her plastered thumb aloft having cut it open on the eve of the game while slicing a bagel.
But the scorer says she is on the road to recovery while also giving an update on housemate Follis’ injury after she was forced off in Doncaster.
“The thumb is fine and I think I’ll get by,” joked Jones.
“I showed the physio after the game and they just waved me off.
“Everyone was rinsing me that I was supposed to be the big target man, getting my thumb strapped but I was getting hairspray in it before the game!
“I haven’t scored many goals this season so I’m not sure how to celebrate.
“I just thank the lucky thumb.”
She added: “I think Emma said it was more fatigue than anything else.
“She fancied a little lie down.
“She rolled her ankle and she’s been icing it but she was walking around on it without crutches the day after so that’s a good sign.
“I’m sure she’ll be absolutely fine for our next game.”
Reading have a break before travelling to face recently dethroned WSL 1 champions Chelsea on October 30.