Philip Anthony “Phil” Jones (born 21 February 1992) is an English footballer who plays for Manchester United and the England national team. Before joining Manchester United, Jones played for Blackburn Rovers at both youth and senior levels. Although primarily a central defender, he has also been used as a defensive midfielder or right back.
Jones has represented England at various levels and is currently a member of the England senior squad. He played for the Under-19 team in 2009 before making his debut for the Under-21 team in 2010. He made his debut for the England senior squad on 7 October 2011.
Jones (centre) flanked by Rooney and Lampard
Jones was born in Preston, Lancashire and grew up in nearby Clayton-le-woods. He attended Balshaw’s Church of England High School in Leyland, and played for the Ribble Wanderers Under-10 side.
Jones joined the Blackburn Rovers youth team in 2002. He then joined the senior team for the 2009–10 Premier League season, signing a two-year professional contract, and was given the squad number 28. He made his first team debut for Blackburn after starting the League Cup game against Nottingham Forest on 22 September 2009, in which Blackburn won 1–0. Then in February 2010, he signed a new five-year contract that included a £16 million release clause. Jones made his first Premier League start for Blackburn against Chelsea on 21 March, just a month after turning eighteen. He was widely praised for his committed and assured performance at centre-half, making several crucial blocks and interceptions as Rovers held the champions to a 1–1 draw at Ewood Park. In the 2009/2010 season, he made nine league appearances, and three cup appearances.
The 2010/2011 season started in promising fashion with Jones starting in the opening game of the campaign against Everton, and subsequently playing the majority of the club’s games in the first half of the season, albeit in an unfamiliar defensive midfield role. Unfortunately, a torn knee cartilage injury in a game against West Ham United in December, threatened to rule him out for the remainder of the season. However, on 19 March 2011, he made his return from injury against Blackpool at Ewood Park coming on as a second-half substitute for Brett Emerton in a 2–2 draw. On 2 April 2011, Jones started a first-team match for the first time in four months against Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium, playing the full 90 minutes in a deserved 0–0 draw. Despite his injury, he played 26 league games, and two cup games for Blackburn that season.
At the end of the 2010–11 season, Manchester United were reportedly interested in signing Jones. Sir Alex Ferguson was apparently impressed with Jones’ commitment and leadership skills at centre-back when Blackburn held United to a 1–1 draw on the day United clinched the 2010–11 title. On 13 June 2011, United confirmed that they had reached an agreement to sign Jones on a five-year deal for an undisclosed transfer fee believed to be at least £16.5m; the deal would be finalised upon his return from international duty. He made his debut for the club on the 2011 pre-season tour to the USA, in United’s 3–1 victory over Chicago Fire.
Jones made his competitive debut for Manchester United as a second-half substitute, replacing Rio Ferdinand in the FA Community Shield clash against Manchester City. United were 2–0 behind, but won 3–2 over rivals Manchester City in the 2011 Community Shield. Jones made his league debut a week later, again as a substitute replacing Ferdinand, as United beat West Bromwich Albion 2–1 on the opening weekend. He made his full Premier League debut on 22 August 2011 against Tottenham Hostpur in a 3–0 victory at Old Trafford, playing the entire game alongside Jonny Evans. On 10 September 2011, Jones provided two assists for Wayne Rooney in United’s 5–0 thumping of Bolton Wanderers at the Reebok Stadium. He played the entire game at right back and created Rooney’s first goal after a quick throw in and pin point cross for Rooney to tap home. Then five minutes later, Jones embarked on a mazy dribble going past numerous Bolton defenders before his shot was blocked by the goalkeeper but followed up by Rooney. Jones made a similar type of run in United’s next game at home to Chelsea, when he got into the box and caused panic in the Chelsea defense, before the ball ricocheted to Wayne Rooney to score. United went on to win the game 3–1. Jones started the away game to Liverpool as a box to box midfielder, different from his usual centre-back and full-back positions he was accustomed to. On 22 November 2011, Jones put through his own net in the opening minutes against Benfica in a UEFA Champions League group stage match; a deflected ball was fired across the six-yard box and Jones was unable to adjust his feet in time; the match ended in a 2–2 draw. Jones scored his first ever senior goal on 3 December 2011, in a 1–0 away win against Aston Villa. He arrived in the box from centre midfield to meet a cross from Nani with a controlled side foot volley to score the game’s only goal. Jones scored a consolation goal against Basel in a 2–1 Champions League defeat that resulted in United being knocked out of the competition, heading in a loose ball after Federico Macheda‘s shot had come back off the bar. On 21 December 2011, he suffered a facial injury in an away match against Fulham, however the X-ray showed no serious damage and Jones returned to action in the 3–2 defeat against Blackburn Rovers on 31 December. Jones scored an own goal in their 3–0 loss to Newcastle United.
After suffering a back problem and having a knee operation which kept him out for the start of the 2012-13 season, Jones made his first appearance in an away match against Galatasaray in the UEFA Champions League on 20 November. He made his first Premier League appearance on 28 November, replacing Anderson in the 84th minute of a 1-0 win at home to West Ham United. He scored a volley goal on 29 october 2013 in League Cup against Norwich City FC
Jones made his debut for the England under-19 team in the 3–1 win over Turkey on 17 November 2009. He has since appeared a further three times for the under-19s.
On 4 August 2010, Jones was called up to the England under-21 squad. On 10 August, Jones won his first under-21 cap, starting for England against Uzbekistan. He was substituted in the 46th minute and was replaced by Liverpool‘s Martin Kelly. He was selected for the 2011 U-21 European Championship in Denmark and was made captain by manager Stuart Pearce for the final group stage game against the Czech Republic.
On 5 August 2011, he was called up to the England first-team squad for the friendly against the Netherlands by Fabio Capello, but did not end up playing as the game was cancelled four days later by the FA after the riots in London. On 7 October 2011, He made his debut for the England senior team in a Euro 2012 qualifying 2–2 away draw against Montenegro. After the game, Capello said Jones was “born with talent”, and praised his performance.