Sport Soccer

Friday 18 August 2017

Phil Jones welcomes Victor Lindelof's arrival at Manchester United

Phil Jones is relishing the competition for places at Manchester United
Phil Jones is relishing the competition for places at Manchester United

England defender Phil Jones is not feeling threatened by Victor Lindelof's arrival at Manchester United.

Jones had another injury-disrupted season at Old Trafford and, despite starting the last four games of the Premier League campaign, his first-team prospects next term are already facing a squeeze.

Sweden international Lindelof may expect to be a regular at the heart of defence after his £30.75million move from Benfica was completed on Wednesday, with Eric Bailly already established as a first choice.

That leaves Jones, England team-mate Chris Smalling, Daley Blind and Marcos Rojo with a considerable challenge on their hands, but that is par for the course with the Red Devils.

"We're Manchester United, we're going to attract the best players and the biggest players. It would be a strange summer if we weren't signing players like that," said Jones.

"Competition is always good. I've spoken to the manager, he just asks how you're feeling, how you're doing, just a normal conversation between player and manager.

"He's a good man manager, he's like that with all the players."

Jones won his first England cap in two years on Tuesday, in a 3-2 friendly defeat by 10-man France.

Jones, John Stones and Gary Cahill lined up for the first time as a three-man defence and were given a torrid time by Les Bleus forwards Kylian Mbappe and Ousmane Dembele.

The pair were rampant at times, stretching and driving at their opponents with pace and power even after Raphael Varane's video-assisted red card gave England the numerical advantage.

France's performance was a strong statement of intent following their surprise qualifying defeat to Sweden last week, particularly with Didier Deschamps leaving the star power of Antoine Griezmann, Alexandre Lacazette, Blaise Matuidi and Dimitri Payet on the bench.

Yet Jones made the optimistic claim that England boasted just as good a side on paper, lacking only application on the day.

Those present at Stade de France may find that hard to swallow but Jones is sure the gulf in class is not dramatic or unassailable.

"I don't think it's the quality of player because when you look at our team versus their team you couldn't turn round and say their team was better quality than ours," he said.

"We've got players with bags of quality, it's just putting it together and getting it right.

"We've done well against the top teams in recent times and not quite got over the line. It was the same here and that needs to change going into tournaments because we need to beat these teams.

"It's about bringing it all together because maybe at the moment against the big teams we're maybe falling a bit short. We're by no means far behind them because the way we started (with Harry Kane's ninth-minute opener) if we'd played like that for 90 minutes we'd have been comfortable winners.

"We should have killed the game, no way we should have lost at 2-2 in a comfortable position against 10 men. It's a bitter pill to swallow."

Press Association

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport