The big frontman struggled to make an impact at the end of last year but now wants to fire the goals to get the Bluebirds back to the top.
Kenwyne Jones is playing Championship football for the first time in seven years – and marked his return to the second tier of the game with a booming headed goal in Cardiff City’s opening 1-1 draw at Blackburn last Friday night.
The big man from Trinidad is, at his best among the most powerful strikers in British football, and he is intent on being back in the Premier League next season.
There were long chats over the summer with Bluebirds manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer about this season and the part he would play in attempting to get City back among the Premier elite.
For the last seven years Jones has played top flight football for Sunderland, Stoke and, last season at the Cardiff City Stadium.
The challenge of Championship football, though, holds no fears for a striker intent on making a major impact for Solskjaer’s team.
“It’s been seven years, almost exactly, since I last played in the Championship and it can be a different challenge,” said Jones after his opener at Ewood Park.
“There are so many matches to fit in, you don’t have time to worry. As soon as you have played one Championship match there is another coming up fast.
“At this level there are times when you have to go on adrenalin and get on with it. It can also work against you when there is lots of time to train. Sometimes there can be too many ideas and it can become complicated.
“I’m excited about the challenge ahead, I love scoring goals, and if we are going to regain our Premier League place, those goals are going to be needed.”
The 6ft 2ins Jones returned for pre-season fit, fired-up and ready for action. Perhaps those telephone chats with Solskjaer ensured he knew he will be playing a key role under the Norwegian.
This is a different Jones to the centre-forward who struggled to make an impact during the second half of last season. When he was urged to make the most of his sheer physical presence during pre-season training in Austria he smashed into coach Richard Hartis, who was holding a tackle bag, sending him flying and earned applause from Solskjaer’s backroom team.
“I don’t know if I am different from last season, which was tough for us as a team,” said Jones. “Now we have a specific goal and that is to be back in the Premier League next August,
“It’s important to get in shape because at Championship level there are matches coming up all the time. It’s going to take a lot of effort from everybody if we are to build and sustain a challenge.”
Jones first came to the UK 12 years ago when, as a teenager, he spent three months travelling around Europe trying to find a club.
He had trials with Rangers, Southampton, Manchester United plus West Ham and also went to Holland in search of a first professional contract.
The Saints gave Jones his chance and he said: “It was either find a club or join the Trinidad army.”
His uncle, Philbert Jones, who helped Trinidad and Tobago to within a point of qualifying for the 1990 World Cup, was the man who taught Kenwyne his trademark somersault goal celebration.
“He was my inspiration when I was younger,” said Kenwyne. “My uncle played for the national team. I remember him as the starting striker and nearly getting to Italia ‘90.
“That was big at the time because the whole country was behind the team. It changed the profile of football in the country.
“That was my real inspiration to become a footballer. Where I lived there was a football field across from my house and everybody would be out each evening playing.
“We had small goalposts, about five-a-side size. We’d rush home from school, drop our bags and be out playing football 24/7 until we were called in.
“I was about seven and I saw my uncle doing some sit-ups and, bang, just like that, out of nowhere he did a back flip. Most incredible thing I ever saw!
“I wanted to do it. I played in school tournaments at the age of 13 and the first time I scored did the back flip. I scored, ran to the corner and just flipped over.
“Everyone stood back, they’d never seen it before, and that was the start of it.”
Today, Jones has a big part to play in Cardiff’s quest for promotion and, apart from scoring, he caused major problems for home defenders with his power and aggression.
It was a surprise when Jones was given the nod to start alongside Nicky Maynard. But he struck with a first-half header to give Cardiff a lead and might have made it 2-0 when he had home keeper Paul Robinson in his sights.
“That free-kick delivery by Peter Whittingham was perfect,” said Jones, paying tribute to his team-mate.
“With the other chance, because I know Robbo, my thought was to get my shot in early, but it didn’t come.
“I couldn’t get it out of my feet. Hopefully there will be bigger and better things to come.”
Jones knows competition for Cardiff places in attack is fierce with Maynard, Adam Le Fondre, Federico Macheda, Javi Guerra and Joe Mason all determined to nail down a starting spot. Every striker we have brings different qualities and we’ll need all of those in a tough, gruelling season. I’m pretty sure all of us will chip in with goals.
“We showed our character at Blackburn where, with all eyes on us in the opening match of the season, we were able to grind out a result.
“Cardiff are tipped to go straight back up, but that’s not guaranteed. We’ll do everything we can, but to be honest there is nothing in life you can plan for.
“Things happen or not. You have to adjust and roll with it. I wanted to sign for Cardiff in January – and now I want to help our club regain their Premier League place.”