Capello: Phil Jones is my new Franco Baresi
Published 22:31 16/11/11 By Martin Lipton
Fabio Capello has given his ultimate seal of approval to Phil Jones by comparing the Manchester United youngster to two of football's all-time greats.
Jones played his third different England match in a different position as he filled the holding midfield role in Tuesday's Wembley win over Sweden.
The teenager, who admits his natural position is at the heart of the back line, made his debut at right-back in Montenegro last month before playing a more advanced midfield role in the upset win over Spain last weekend.
After effectively booking his place in England’s Euro 2012 squad as Scott Parker’s deputy, Jones found himself showered with huge praise, as Capello bracketed him with two of the players who were the Italian's biggest standard bearers in his club career,
“It is difficult to find a player like Phil Jones, really difficult," said Capello. "In my career I found probably only two.
“I’m talking about Franco Baresi at Milan and Fernando Hierro at Real Madrid. They were great players, who could play as a midfielder but also at centre-back.
“Phil can play in different positions but always at the top level. This shows what he has - he is a talent.”
Baresi won six Serie A crowns, the European Cup three times and was a member of Italy’s 1982 World Cup-winning squad, while Hierro scored 29 times in 89 caps for Spain and earned three Champions League titles plus five domestic crowns.
So far, Jones has a bare personal honours board, but Capello clearly believes the United man is at the dawn of what is going to be a stellar career for club and country.
“What is so good about him and makes him such a big talent is that when he receive the ball he plays always without fear," added the England boss.
“He makes good passes and finds good solutions - the best solution every time. I know something about football and the solution that he chooses every time when he receives the ball always the best. It is a talent.
“To see him play in front of the back four against Sweden was really important for me because now, if Parker is not fit, I have a solution.
“I needed to experiment. I was not sure he [Jones] would be okay to play this position. I knew he can play in every other position but for me it was a really important test for him.”
Sam Allardyce, Jones’ former club boss at Blackburn, believes the player poses too much of a threat going forward to be restricted to a role as centre-back.
The current West Ham manager believes Capello could do worse than install Jones as his first choice right-back next year.
Allardyce said: “The only thing that will suppress his ability as a central defender is his outstanding ability on the ball.
“I think right-back might be even better for him because his attacking flair and attacking qualities are equally as good as his defensive qualities.
“He was very unfortunate not to score against Sweden and that shows that playing him at centre-back might suppress his great ability on the ball.”
ENGLAND'S EURO 2012 DIARY
December 2 Finals draw takes place in Kiev
December 9 UEFA hear Wayne Rooney's appeal against his three-match ban
February 29 England v Holland friendly at Wembley
May 14 Fabio Capello names provisional 30-man squad
May 26 Farewell friendly at Wembley, against opponents to be decided
May 29 Capello must confirm his 23-man final squad
June 1-2 Last pre-tournament warm-up, possibly against Ireland in Dublin
June 3-4 England fly to tournament base (must be five days before their opening game)
June 8 Euro 2012 starts in Warsaw, with Poland being involved in the opening game
EURO 2012: HOW THE DRAW WILL WORK
UEFA have used their national co-efficients (compiled from all competitive matches since Euro 2008 qualifying began) to determine the four seeding pots of the qualifiers, with Spain and Holland joining the joint hosts in the first group.
Pot One: Poland, Ukraine, Spain, Holland
Pot Two: Germany, Italy, England, Russia
Pot Three: Croatia, Greece, Portugal, Sweden.
Pot Four: Denmark, France, Czech Republic, Republic of Ireland
The teams will be drawn in four groups, with Poland at the head of Group A and Ukraine in Group D. Holland and Spain will be first qualifiers assigned, followed by the bottom pot. England and the rest of Pot Two will be the last sides to be assigned.
All teams will play group matches in two venues, with two groups being based in each host country and a total of eight stadia hosting games.