Phil Jones has been a little hard to judge at Manchester United this year because he’s an undoubtedly talented player, but he seems to be used in a different role every couple of weeks.
He’s likely to feature prominently in the summer games against the Republic of Ireland and Brazil, but where he should play in each match is a very intriguing question.
There’s no harm in Roy Hodgson starting him in either game because the stakes are lower, it would be good for his experience and he’s good enough in the first place anyway.
The match against Ireland could see him taking the role, which many see as the best position for him and that’s in the middle or on the right side of the defence.
The match against Ireland is going to be a much more passionate affair than many may appreciate because of the historic rivalry between the two countries and areas.
Regardless of the fact that match is at Wembley, the Irish will have a lot of support and the small group of supporters who may chant racist songs towards each other has the potential to turn things hostile.
That could create a very full on football match so it’s important for Hodgson to have a very solid and reliable defence, capable of coping with a variety of different counter attacks from the Irish.
Jones is also good enough to cover for any defensive players who are out of position, which makes him a more important defensive player against the counter attack.
The match against Brazil is a different story and that’s where we could see him step out of the defence and into a defensive midfield role.
Sir Alex Ferguson used him plenty of times in a defensive role last season, most notably to mark Marouane Fellaini in a match against Everton and Cristiano Ronaldo in the Champions League clash.
On both occasions where he was given that specific role to go into the midfield and follow those players, he did an admirable job. That’s despite the fact Ronaldo scored in both games against United.
Brazil have plenty of players who are influential on the ball and can hurt England so while Hodgson has cover in defence, that allows him to use Jones in a midfield role.
He can use him to either man mark someone like Neymar or he can use him to sit in front of the back four, picking off Brazilian attacking moves and filling in for defenders when they are out of position.
He is a central defender and that’s where he will play for most of his career but Hodgson should use his versatility just as much as Fergie did during his final year at United.
Should Jones start? Where do you think he should play?
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