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Hodgson keen to hand Jones defensive role

England boss Roy Hodgson says he is eager to test Manchester United utility man Phil Jones at centre-back in the near future.

Jones made 17 appearances to help his side claim the 2012-13 Premier League title, but featured in a number of positions – including right-back and central midfield.

And Hodgson is now keen to see how the 21-year-old copes at centre-half at international level, having failed to oust Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic from the heart of United’s defence.

“Phil is one of the players who falls into the category of those who maybe haven’t been playing regularly for their club team,” he said.

“If Tom Cleverley wanted a place at United, he had to get in front of Shinji Kagawa, Paul Scholes and Anderson.

“And it is the same, really, with Phil Jones. If he wants to play centre-half, he has to get in front of Ferdinand, Jonny Evans and Smalling to make the place his own.

“As a result, Sir Alex has used him in a couple of positions. He has played at full-back where he has done well. He has also played him in centre of midfield.

“I am under the impression – and I haven’t worked enough with him to be able to say definitively that this is what I think – that he is a centre-half. He came to United as a centre-half and I think that’s where he’d want to play.

“Quite frankly, his chances of establishing himself in the team are probably as great if not greater at centre-back than at full-back, because at full-back, on both sides, we have pretty stiff competition.”
Thu 23 May, 2013
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