Fear­less Jones the right man for Jose – and now Eng­land

The Irish Mail on Sunday - - THE TITLE - By Jack Gaughan

VIC­TOR LINDELOF briefly brought the leafy lane lead­ing up to Manch­ester United’s train­ing base to a halt on Fri­day af­ter­noon.

Tens of sup­port­ers were wait­ing at the gates ready to pounce for au­to­graphs from their he­roes as Lindelof at­tempted to make his way home.

Du­ti­fully, the £31mil­lion sign­ing stopped his black Mercedes and obliged. Those who crowded his wheels left Car­ring­ton with self­ies and scrib­bles of a man who is yet to play in the Premier League. Some­one who has made only one match­day squad, in fact.

Lindelof was sup­posed to be the cen­tral de­fen­sive an­swer — he surely will still be in the long term — but Jose Mour­inho has turned to a man de­rided for so­lid­ity in the in­terim in­stead. A very shrewd move in­deed.

This is quite the re­nais­sance for Phil Jones. The nig­gling in­juries have dis­ap­peared. Three clean sheets for Jones and Eric Bailly sug­gest Mour­inho has got this spot on. It has left Chris Smalling kick­ing his heels too, but Jones is de­serv­ing of the chance.

Yes­ter­day Jamie Vardy found it hard to get any change out of the 25-year-old. A com­plete con­trast to Arse­nal a fort­night prior.

Jones is fear­less, his read­ing of the game is ex­em­plary, step­ping out of the back four to in­ter­cept danger­ous sit­u­a­tions. Quick feet, too, and calm on the ball. A leader, a good com­mu­ni­ca­tor, a fierce com­peti­tor.

Lit­tle won­der Gareth South­gate has again called him up to the Eng­land squad. There is an ar­gu­ment for him start­ing in Malta on Fri­day. It would be just his sec­ond cap since Novem­ber 2015 but Jones is the form Eng­land cen­tral de­fender right now.

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