Hodgson backs Phil Jones for centre-back

Phil Jones, Manchester UnitedPhil Jones’ long-term position for England is at centre-back, according to Three Lions boss Roy Hodgson.

The versatile Manchester United star’s only appearance under Hodgson was at right-back against Norway 12 months ago, though he is set to add to his tally of five caps in friendlies against the Republic of Ireland and Brazil next week.

The 21-year-old can play across the back four and also in midfield, though at Old Trafford he faces competition in the centre of defence from the likes of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic.

However, at national level Hodgson, who is celebrating a year in charge of the national side this month, feels the former Blackburn star’s best chance of regular England action is at centre-back, given competition in other positions.

“If he wants to play centre-half [at Manchester United], he has to get in front of Ferdinand, Jonny Evans and [Chris] Smalling to make the place his own,” Hodgson told the Daily Mirror.

“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.”

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