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Allardyce tips Jones to flourish under Fergie

FORMER Blackburn manager Sam Allardyce expects Phil Jones to form a golden defensive partnership with Chris Smalling at Manchester United.

Jones, Blackburn's highly rated 19-year-old centre-back, is poised to join the Premier League champions in a deal said to be worth around £16m.

The player is now on international duty with the England U21s but is understood to have agreed terms and passed a medical at United.

It is understood only legal formalities are left to be finalised before Jones officially follows 21-year-old Smalling, who left Fulham in a £10m deal last summer, to Old Trafford.

The youngsters will have much to do to dislodge first-choice pair Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic but Allardyce believes their future together is bright.


Allardyce, who is now at West Ham but handed Jones his senior debut last year, said: “Phil is obviously going to flourish now at Manchester United because he links up with Chris Smalling.

“Again, he (Smalling) was bought by Manchester United from Fulham after only playing a handful of games (for the Cottagers).

“That was around £10m and this is £15m and rising – it shows that young talent today is very expensive.” Jones has made a big impression at Ewood Park in a short space of time, and recovered well from a threemonth knee injury lay-off to finish last season strongly.

Allardyce added: “I think, eventually, with a little more experience, which he is going to gain more quickly at Manchester United, he will ultimately become an England defender.”

Jones is not the only source of transfer speculation surrounding United, with reports increasingly suggesting the club are closing in on Aston Villa forward Ashley Young.

It was claimed Young's representatives met with United officials yesterday but there has been no comment from either the Red Devils or Villa.

Young, 25, has been valued at around £20m even though he has just one year remaining on his Villa contract.

He has also been linked with Liverpool but his future may not be resolved immediately as he is getting married this weekend.