Jones fine to Phil-in: Former Red Devil Ronny Johnsen insists defender can thrive as jack-of-all-trades

By Chris Bailey

Phil Jones’ versatility will not hamper the young defender’s first-team ambitions, according to former Manchester United utility man Ronny Johnsen.

Since moving from Blackburn Rovers in a £16m deal two years ago, Jones has plugged holes at centre-back, full-back and in midfield for the Red Devils.

It remains to be seen what incoming boss David Moyes has in store for the 21-year-old, but Johnsen insists Jones can take a leaf from his book.

“The gaffer used to like me playing in midfield, especially when Roy Keane was out with injury,” Johnsen told “But I played in defence, at the back, a lot and enjoyed it. Playing in different positions is actually more common now.

“Phil doesn’t need to be worried. Anyway, I think he benefits from it in the end. You learn a little bit from every position you play in so it’s something that you can only benefit from.

“He is obviously so young and has got so many years ahead of him that it is all good for his career.”

Despite the pair’s fitness problems last season, Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic have so far proved hard to crack at the heart of defence.

But Johnsen believes youth players should take every playing opportunity with both hands – even if it means playing in an unfamiliar role.

“I think it’s how things work at the minute,” said Johnsen, who enjoyed an appearance up front for Norway.

“Some clubs have to change things around a bit and look for a peak from the players they have got. Sometimes, you just have to adapt and play in the position where the manager wants you to play.

“If you’re positive and you just think: ‘I will benefit from this and learn a little bit from playing on this side or elsewhere’. Teamwise, I think that’s the way the modern game is and especially the modern player as well.”

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