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Friday 19 September 2014

Jones would relish centre-back role

Published 24/07/2013 | 08:38

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Phil Jones sees his future in the heart of Manchester United's back four

Phil Jones is happy to be Manchester United manager David Moyes' flexible friend - but he knows the time will come when he needs to specialise.

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Long touted as a high-class central defender, at times Jones has been doing anything but occupying his favourite position.

None of his seven England caps have come in that preferred role, and Sir Alex Ferguson liked to use the former Blackburn man as a defensive screen in front of his back four.

Privately, Moyes has voiced his belief Jones will eventually slot into central defence and that was where the 21-year-old figured in Tuesday's 3-2 defeat to Yokohama F Marinos.

Yet Jones knows he could be moved about again once the important games start next month.

"I have said from day one I see myself as a centre-back," he said. "But if I am asked to play in midfield or at right-back I am happy to do so. As long as I am in the team, it doesn't matter whether I am in goal. Of course, towards the middle and end of my career I will want to start cementing a place in a certain position but at the moment I am happy."

That Jones is staying fit is a welcome relief in what has turned into a difficult first pre-season for Moyes.

Whether it be difficulties in bringing in new players, the Wayne Rooney situation or a worrying groin injury collected by Robin van Persie during the first half of Tuesday night's game, problems are piling up for Moyes.

On the transfers front, a move for Barcelona's Cesc Fabregas has stalled, Leighton Baines and Marouane Fellaini remain at Everton, Yohan Cabaye at Newcastle, and a seismic shift in the present situation would be required to secure the services of Gareth Bale or Cristiano Ronaldo.

Yet, inside the changing room, all is going well. Insiders have confirmed Moyes' training regime has been impressive and while Jones could hardly be expected to say anything else under the circumstances, he reports a keen desire to succeed for the new boss.

"I am more than happy the new manager has come in," he said.

"He is a great manager. We all know what he has done at Everton. I am sure he will do well for Manchester United as well. The training has been as sharp as nails. There is that willingness to impress. That is the case with all the players, not just myself. Every training session has been very competitive."

Moyes has reiterated that Wayne Rooney is not for sale, and said the striker is on track to make his comeback in Sweden next month. United have already turned down one bid from Chelsea for Rooney, although it is expected Jose Mourinho will be back with another long before the transfer window closes.

Rooney did not do much to dampen down speculation over his future by heading to the south east for a round of golf at a course close to the Chelsea training ground at the weekend. United's expectation remains that Rooney, having had treatment for a hamstring injury, will be in Stockholm for the friendly against AIK Solna on August 6.

''We have said and the club have said he is not for sale,'' said Moyes. ''That has not changed. I do expect Wayne to be in Stockholm. As far as I know he is coming on. He has started light jogging and the feedback from the physios is that he is progressing."

Press Association

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