Is it true, though, that you do prefer to play at the heart of the defence?
That’s my preferred position. I do like to play centre-back and hopefully I can play more there in this second half of the season. But, if I’m needed in midfield, I’ll be more than happy to play there as well.
Does playing in midfield give you a new perspective on the game?
Yes, it definitely helps you. It helps you think quicker in your mind and move your feet quicker as well. There is a lot less time on the ball and also a lot more pressure when you’re in possession so it has definitely helped me.
You have always been something of a ball-playing defender anyway..
I don’t mind taking the ball out from defence and starting off attacks. I feel quite calm on the ball so I am always more than happy to do that.
Not only have you skippered the Under-21s of late but you also had the armband with England Under-19s..
I was captain of England when we went to the Under-19 European Championship in the summer. It was a good experience as well as a very proud moment for me. We got to the semi-finals but we should have won really against Greece. There were a few hitches here and there but we should have reached the final. I’m always pleased to be captain whether it is for the club or my country.
Have you always been a leader?
Yes, I really enjoy it. But, even if you’re not captain, I don’t think it changes the way you play, or at least it shouldn’t do. You should still be the same player and still lead – whether you’ve got the armband on or not.
As a local lad, are you even more determined to make it at United?
I’ve been here since I was seven and going down to The Cliff and then Littleton Road. I used to get brought to training sessions every night and visit Carrington every now and then. I live in Denton, which is only 15 minutes or so away, and it’s brilliant to be playing for the club you support.