Jones ready for Utd 'challenge'
ew England Under-21 captain Phil Jones has declared himself ready for the "massive challenge" of breaking into the Manchester United side. Jones cannot wait to get started at Old Trafford and is confident he has not sacrificed first-team football by leaving Blackburn. Jones, 19, last week completed his move to Sir Alex Ferguson's side for a fee reportedly in excess of £16.5million. He will link up with his new team-mates, including international centre-back partner Chris Smalling, once he returns from holiday after England crashed out of the European Under-21 Championship on Sunday night. Jone said: "I'm not sure when my first day is going to be. I have got to go home first, go on a few holidays and chill out for a little bit. "Hopefully, I will get a call from the gaffer and I'm looking forward to that. "Everyone knows they are one of the biggest clubs on the planet. It's a massive move for me and I just can't wait to get started. It's a massive challenge." Jones will doubtless begin his Old Trafford career behind Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic and Smalling in the pecking order but he is unfazed by the prospect. "Chris has shown that you can go in there and play games for United," Jones said of Smalling, who joined the Premier League champions a year ago. "He has done extremely well. "The gaffer has shown he is not afraid to put young faces in the team. When I get the chance I am confident I will take it." The teenager is also unflustered about facing the famous Ferguson 'hairdryer', adding: "I'm ready for that." Jones and Smalling's performances were one of few bright spots for England in Denmark during the past 10 days and the pair look set to be a long-term partnership for both club and country. Jones said: "Chris is a fantastic player. I enjoy playing with him and we complement each other well. "Hopefully, we can do that in the future." Jones was handed the England Under-21 captaincy for the agonising defeat against Czech Republic after Michael Mancienne was dropped from the side. Despite being one of the youngest members of the squad, he led by example and looked certain to extend his unbeaten record for his country to 13 games before a late collapse led to a 2-1 defeat. "It is horrible," said an emotionally-drained Jones. "We are disappointed, distraught, gutted. It is hard to sum up how we are feeling in words. "It won't put me off wanting to be captain in the future. To walk the lads out at the start of the game at the front of the queue is a massive honour." Indeed, Jones is determined to make up for England's dismal displays in Denmark at the next tournament in two years' time. "I can't wait, I'm looking forward to it," he said. "Let's try and move on from this, learn and improve." New United team-mate Smalling was able to appreciate the irony of conceding two last-gasp goals. "It really killed our tournament and killed everybody's heads," he said. "We have done it so many times this season at Aston Villa, Blackpool... "Fair play to the Czech tactics. It was up to us to break them down, we didn't have the answers." In truth, England's failure to qualify for the semi-finals was down more to their performances in the opening matches Group B games. "We should have played like that in the other two games," he said. "We need to learn that we have to start off these tournaments like we did last night, not when everything's on the line. "The first two games weren't good enough and we gave ourselves too much to do."
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