'I know I'm no Pirlo' - Phil Jones hits back at Paul Scholes criticism
Published 09/06/2015 | 07:44
Phil Jones is "not quite clever enough" to be a centre-back in Paul Scholes' opinion, not that the England international cares what his former Manchester United team-mate or anyone else thinks.
The 23-year-old was rather surprisingly deployed as right-back instead of Nathaniel Clyne in the Three Lions' friendly against the Republic of Ireland on Sunday.
Jones was solid enough in the 0-0 draw at the Aviva Stadium, although centre-back is the United defender's preferred position - a role Scholes believes he is "not quite clever enough to do".
The defender's former team-mate believes he gets dragged out of position too easily, and reckons his pace, power and crossing ability makes him more effective as a full-back.
"People comment all the time about individuals," Jones said when that was put to him.
"Gone are the days when I used to take notice of what people say and react to it. It doesn't bother me one little bit any more.
"I am at the stage now where I can't be considered as a young player any more. I have got to step up, keep playing well and do what I do best."
Right-back is the third different role Jones has been asked to play in as many games, having played in central defence against Lithuania and then pushed into midfield against Italy a few days later.
"I was no (Andrea) Pirlo or something like that - do you know what I mean?" Jones said. "I could have told you that before the game!
"I can laugh about it now but I try to do the job as best I can. I know I'm not an out-and-out midfielder who is going to get on the ball and start spraying it about. I know what I am good at and I try to stick to that.
"I have played in all three (positions) now and sometimes it can be difficult going from one position to the next, but I feel more comfortable at right-back.
"Obviously centre-back is where I want to be playing, but I was happy to play at right-back (against Ireland).
"You just take it on the chin and play where you are asked to play. I know I can play in those positions.
"Some people think it is easy to just slot in there and everyone assumes that you have got to be up to speed straight away, but I was happy to play and it was a tough game."