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Jones relishes his first taste of a title race

IT has not taken long for Manchester United defender Phil Jones to understand what it means to be in the thick of a Premier League title race.

Jones knew life would be a bit more intense when he left Blackburn for Old Trafford last summer.

Now the 20-year-old is in the eye of the storm as United look to protect their five-point lead over the remaining seven games to claim a record 20th championship.

"You can't get away from the title race," he said. "The hype is massive. You get to realise what it means to win and pick up that trophy every year.

"People are talking about it everywhere, which makes it hard to take your mind off it.

"It is great to be part of that though. It is an exciting time."

Nevertheless, as one of the rookies, Jones is learning from the veterans in the United squad.

After all, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and Rio Ferdinand have been going through such situations virtually on an annual basis throughout their time with the Red Devils. And Jones wants to soak up all the information he can.


"The general knowledge of the experienced players, from just being there, knowing how to cope, what things to do on and off the field and how to prepare for games is invaluable," he said. "You cannot buy that kind of experience."

Jones showed his flexibility by filling a midfield berth during Monday's win at Blackburn, when Alex Ferguson opted to stack that area of the field to ensure United were not overrun.

It seems likely Ferguson will scrap that experiment for Sunday's encounter with QPR at Old Trafford. Nani's availability offers another attacking option.

"It would be a massive achievement for me, my family and my friends," said Jones. I would never have dreamed of being able to lift the Premier League trophy. But we are a long way off that yet."