• Premier League

Jones calls for central United role

ESPN staff
June 26, 2014
Phil Jones has been played in different positions by Manchester United © Getty Images

Phil Jones has told Louis van Gaal that he wants to be the new Manchester United manager's first-choice centre-back.

The defender has become a utility player at Old Trafford, filling in across the back four and in midfield and would like to carve out a position of his own.

Critics claim Jones' versatility has stunted his growth as player and, while he is not ready to use strongarm tactics over the issue, he is determined to make his case.

"I'd like to go back to the club and cement a regular place," Jones said after arriving home with the England squad after the team's dismal World Cup exit. "I've said in the past few years that sometimes it doesn't really affect me but it is nice to cement a regular place. Hopefully I can do that.

"It's for the manager to decide the position I play. You've seen me play centre-back, right-back and the holding role in midfield.

"Obviously, I think I'm an out-and-out defender. I'm happy to play anywhere for Manchester United. That's for the manager to decide."

Jones made clear during David Moyes' reign at United that he thought centre-back was his best position and was the one he coveted.

Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand's exits have left Chris Smalling, Jonny Evans and Jones as the only experienced players in that position at the club, giving him the opportunity to impress. The hoped-for signing of Anders Herrera, a midfielder who can tackle as well as create, may also help Jones.

Jones is one of several issues for Van Gaal to deal with when he takes over at United after the Netherlands' World Cup campaign is over. Another relates to striker Javier Hernandez who faces his new manager's country in the last 16 and whose future at United remains uncertain.

Hernandez struggled for games last season but does not want the clash in Brazil to be decisive.

"It's him next, I know," Hernandez said on facing Van Gaal at the World Cup. "I don't think either of us will be thinking of Manchester United, he is the Dutch manager and I am a Mexico player, so there is nothing else."

Hernandez scored in the 3-1 victory over Croatia but is likely to play a role from the bench once again and, whatever Van Gaal decides on his future, is looking for some trust. "This has been a complicated period, but if I had lost confidence I would not be here," he said.

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