Jordan Jones considers common ground between club and country as key to his continued progress in Northern Ireland colours.
The Kilmarnock attacker both enjoyed and endured his international debut during the pain of a World Cup play-off exit to Switzerland in November.
However, domestic duty has provided Jones with domestic delight under Steve Clarke.
Kilmarnock have climbed the Scottish Premiership standings thanks to Clarke’s guidance during a run of impressive results including eye-catching games with the Glasgow giants of Rangers and Celtic. That experience of achieving against the odds has been a staple of Northern Ireland under O’Neill and Jones is aiming to enjoy the benefits of similar development at club level.
“The start of the season was a bit slow for Kilmarnock but the new gaffer came in and he has been fantastic,” said Jones. “He’s been vital for me personally and for the team, it’s not just results, we have been getting performance as well, especially against all the big teams.
“I think we are really structured, everyone knows their job and the way it is at the moment even the lads who aren’t playing are training as hard as possible to get the lads who are in the team out of the team.
“With Northern Ireland we are solid at the back and that’s the way we like to play, especially against the big teams.
“When I first moved to Scotland the defensive side of my game wasn’t so good, the quicker you move into the first team you get to learn about that side of things and the manager has helped in that.
“We (Jones and O’Neill) spoke the other week about my performances with Kilmarnock and he has been really impressed and now I want to try and get some minutes.
“I don’t see why we can’t qualify (for EURO 2020), the belief is there, there is a really good honest bunch of lads and we are learning and want to get better every week.
“I think Michael is a very good manager and as long as we keep buying into what he is saying there is every chance we can get to another tournament.”