Jones set for England central-defensive role

The versatile Manchester United man is set to feature from the off against the Republic of Ireland and Brazil, despite not having played for the national side for a year
Phil Jones will be given a chance to build on his five international caps and prove himself at the heart of England's defence in the upcoming friendly matches against the Republic of Ireland and Brazil.

The versatile Manchester United player was given his international debut against Montenegro in October 2011, when he was played at right-back by then England manager Fabio Capello.

Roy Hodgson also picked the 21-year-old at full-back for his opening game against Norway a year ago, but Jones has not featured since.

8/15 England are 8/15 with BetVictor to beat the Republic of Ireland
With Rio Ferdinand and John Terry retired from the international game, Chris Smalling injured and doubts over the form of Phil Jagielka, Joleon Lescott and Gary Cahill, Jones looks set for a starting role in his favoured position for the two upcoming friendlies.

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

“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.”