England World Cup squad profile: Phil Jones

At only 22 years old, the Manchester United youngster heads to his second major tournament with the Three Lions after a busy, if unspectacular, season at club level
His participation is not yet 100 per cent sure as he recovers from injury but Phil Jones looks likely to return to fitness in time to join England's World Cup campaign.

The Manchester United youngster suffered a shoulder injury late in the Premier League season but is expected to make it to Brazil and Goal takes a look at how he is shaping up ahead of this summer's finals.


Though a long way from nailing down a specific role in the first team, only four players made more appearances for Manchester United this season than Jones's 39, with the Red Devils relying on his versatility.

However, with both Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand fading – and now out of Old Trafford altogether – Jones was unable to completely convince that he can be a reliable starter at the back under Louis van Gaal next season.

Indeed, team-mate Chris Smalling outperformed Jones in aerial duels (winning 68.8 per cent compared to Jones's 58%) as well as coming out 11% better on duels overall. Jones, though, had the upper hand on tackle success (73.8% to Smalling's 69.8%).

Neither's stats are spectacular, though, and the still-green Jones is a long way from being the worst at fault for a disastrous season at United. It does not, however, bring him to the World Cup in a great deal of form.

Whatever else, though, Jones displayed a certain something when getting forward from set-pieces, with two particularly well-taken goals against Norwich City and Shakhtar Donetsk demonstrating a better finish than average for a defender.


Though young, this is Jones's second experience of a senior international tournament, having travelled to Poland and Ukraine with England for Euro 2012.

Behind the likes of John Terry and Phil Jagielka, however, the then-20-year-old did not play a minute of the competition, which ended for the Three Lions in a quarter-final exit on penalties.

With Jagielka and Gary Cahill firmly Roy Hodgson's established centre-back pairing, Jones has only made four international appearances since then and, as the presumed first backup, would not have a lot of experience behind him if asked to step up.

Jones previously represented the Under-21s in the 2011 European Championship but that tournament ended disastrously for England, who returned home at the group stage without a single win under their belts.


Jones's role in Brazil is, assuming no injuries, conclusively as backup, though he could find himself covering multiple positions.

While he will most likely serve as the third-choice centre-back and Smalling deputy to Glen Johnson on the right, Jones could competently fill in at full-back as well if required.

If the situation calls for a more defensive presence in midfield, too, Hodgson could be tempted to deploy Jones further up the pitch, with no out-and-out holding man in his 23-man party.