Ex England defender Mills says Phil Jones 'looked lost' against Italy

Phil Jones crop

Manchester United's Phil Jones was a surprising pick in midfield for the start of the friendly in Turin.

Former Leeds and Manchester City fullback described Roy Hodgson's decision to play Manchester United's Phil Jones in midfield against Italy as a 'strange choice' on the BBC Sport website.

Hodgson surprised the waiting media and fans by starting defender Phil Jones in a defensive midfield role against the Italians, even more bizarre considering how gifted the home side are when it comes to passing the ball.

Jones featured in defensive midfield for Sir Alex Ferguson in his early days at Old Trafford after joining from Blackburn, but this season he has been used exclusively in his favoured position of central defence, with more consistent and accomplished performances as a result.

He was unable to protect his defence in Turin as he let Giorgio Chiellini turn him and put in a good cross for Graziano Pelle's opener, and Mills revealed he felt sorry for the United defender from kickoff.

"We are five minutes into the game and I already feel sorry for Phil Jones," said Mills. "He is playing out of position and he already looks lost. He doesn't know whether to go forward or drop back. Players are not sure whether to give him the ball, it makes it very difficult for him. He is struggling.

"I am surprised Phil Jones is not playing at centre-back. Give him the confidence to form a partnership against a decent side. It is only a friendly but it is against quality opposition. Putting him in midfield is a strange choice."

As Chris Smalling went off ill just before half time, Hodgson brought specialised defensive midfielder Michael Carrick into the role Jones had been playing, with the ex Blackburn man then dropping back into the position vacated by his club teammate.

Jones looked much more comfortable in defence, while Carrick brought a predictable composure to the entire side with his ability to stroke the ball about as well as offer protection to the back four.

If nothing else, Jones' brief stint as a central midfielder for England should be the final nail in the coffin for those that think he can do a job outside of defence, especially against a side as strong as Italy.

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