Versatility can be a burden to players seeking to refine their craft in one position, but Phil Jones hopes to use that adaptability to his advantage and become a more complete centre-half.
The 20-year-old defender believes that long-term he will settle in the heart of the defence, despite many of his early United opportunities coming at right-back or in midfield. And the Reds' no.4 intends to use those broad-ranging experiences as fact-finding missions for future use.
“I’ve always said that my favourite position and the one I feel most comfortable in is centre-half,” he told ManUtd.com. “But if playing in different positions helps me become a better player then that’s great.
“It’s never easy going into a different position. I don’t kid myself that playing right-back one week and then centre-midfield the next can be difficult to do; it’s a completely different game, different circumstances and demands you adapt to it. If I am asked to play in a certain situation then I will play there because I enjoy playing football.”
There was debate over Rio Ferdinand’s best natural position as a young player. His technical quality lent itself to a midfield role, but he eventually fused ability on the ball with defensive skills to become a world-class, all-round centre-back.
The two players are of different stock, but could Jones follow a similar route? “I hope so,” he says. “If I could be anything like the player Rio is and has proven to be over ten years at this club then I’ll be delighted. I try to learn from him in training and I listen to any advice that he gives me because I want to be as good a player as I can possibly be.”