Southgate hails 'best defender' Jones

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The former centre-back has pinpointed the Manchester United star as the strongman of his rearguard

Phil Jones has been hailed as England's best defender by Gareth Southgate as the Three Lions prepare to face Slovakia in a crucial World Cup qualifier.

Jones earned his 22nd cap on Friday when England beat Malta 4-0 to ensure they go into Monday's clash at Wembley with a two-point lead at the top of Group F.

Three Lions win to nil v Slovakia 10/11

Slovakia have won each of their last five qualifiers, scoring 13 goals in the process, and Southgate discussed the value of Jones' experience to his defence.

"Not just this season, in terms of when I've been looking at him, but there was a long period last season where I think he's been the best defender," said Southgate.

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"He's got very good composure on the ball, he's got the pace and the reading of the game, he's aggressive in his defending - which I like - and I think he's got fantastic experience although he's still only relatively young.

"He organises well, he competes well, so I'm delighted that we've been able to involve him this time and it was clear the other night [against Malta] what he brings to the team."