Writer: Daniel Grigg
Date:Monday November 1 2010
We've finally seen the new Owen Hargreaves and the man who in the long run should take Gareth Barry's defensive midfield position in the England squad... the sooner the better, the way Barry's playing at the moment.
The name isn't Jack Rodwell or Michael Mancienne, it's Phil Jones, who once again proved himself against the toughest opponents in the Premier League, against Chelsea this weekend.
England need a genuine tackler in that position, rather than a passer of the ball who is unable to do a good enough job defensively against the best teams. Last season Jones put his name onto many fans' lips with a central defensive display where he proved himself one of the few to manage to handle Didier Drogba, amazingly, seemingly able to outmuscle the Ivorian international at just 18 years old and on his league debut.
Though he and Gael Givet had a torrid match against Liverpool last week as the utility central defensive partnership in place of Samba and Nelsen, Jones' performances as a defensive midfield, where he has played in for nearly the whole season, have been a match for almost any other player in a similar position this season, be it Tom Huddlestone, Scott Parker, John Obi Mikel or whoever.
Adding consistency to the undoubted promise, Jones has played all 10 Premier League games this season in which he's only been relatively poor on two occasions at the most and even that's being a little harsh, against Liverpool last week and Birmingham back in August.
The solid performance have been vital too, with a lot of poorly performing midfielders currently playing alongside him, like Andrews, Grella, Dunn and most disappointingly Steven N'Zonzi. If N'Zonzi is the future of France and Jones the future of England, expect the Three Lions to be lifting the World Cup a second time before Les Bleus, but I digress.
The 18 year old local lad was disappointed to see a top performance end up in no points for his team this weekend, but against Everton on the opening day of the season, against Blackpool away and no doubt many more times in the future, the defensive strength and the improving range of passing will earn Rovers plenty of points and should see them comfortably mid table.
Whether that's enough for Jones in the long term, he seems very happy at the moment to be playing for his local club in the top league and showing what he can do against some of the very best attacking teams in world football.
It can't or shouldn't be too long before his talent is acknowledged by Capello or whoever replaces the Italian as England manager, before Jones is given his opportunity in the full national team, having already been skipped ahead of his age group to become part of an excellent under 21 team at such a young age that means he could almost still be playing for the under 21s by the time of the next World Cup.
Date:Monday November 1 2010
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