Phil Jones utility status could prove costly

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In today's footballing transfer culture where astronomical prices are often paid for distinctly average players, there is an even greater need for the utility man.

A player who is comfortable in several different positions on the pitch is a godsend, and the most notable of these currently plying their trade in the Premier League is Manchester United's Phil Jones.

The 21-year old has been a bright spark of a supposedly dim campaign for the Red Devils to date and while it is refreshing to see a player demonstrate such flexibility and willingness to contribute to the team by featuring in different departments, it can often come as a detriment to their development.

So far, Jones has been far from hampered by playing in both defence and midfield. But eventually a time will come where he must find his best position or risk not fulfilling his enormous potential.

Of course, a key figure in this is manager David Moyes, but currently it seems even he is baffled as to where Jones is best suited.

In the recent victory over league leaders Arsenal, the youngster was deployed as a central midfielder, and he was instrumental in preventing the creative trio of Mesut Ozil, Aaron Ramsey and Mikel Arteta from dominating proceedings at Old Trafford. His combative display drew immense recognition from both the United faithful and the media alike.

But his best position is often touted to be at the heart of the defence, where he can truly exert his lion-like courage and bravery.

This is where he featured for England during the friendly defeat to Chile and some have even suggested he could be a future captain of the national side. Few would bet against him doing just that.

However, his more frequent appearances for United have come either in the centre of midfield or on the right-hand side of defence, which suggests a worrying trend that neither Moyes nor England manager Roy Hodgson knows where he performs best.

It will be interesting to see how this particular dilemma plays out, but it would appear in the near future Jones may find himself as a midfielder for the time being due to an injury to Michael Carrick and the potential 10-week absence of Marouane Fellaini.

Granted players like Jones come along once in a blue moon but now is the time for exclusivity rather than flexibility.

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Manchester United
Phil Jones
England Football

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