I didn't snub Under-21s - Jones
Published 12/09/2013 | 19:36
Manchester United's Phil Jones has hit back at Stuart Pearce's claims he snubbed an England Under-21 call this summer.
Pearce singled out Jones and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain as two players who missed the European Championship because they felt dropping back down from the senior squad was beneath them.
Yet, in speaking of players going through the "golden ivory towers of the seniors", Pearce left Jones hurt and confused as that is not how the 21-year-old views the situation at all.
And on a visit to his old school, Balshaw's CE High School in Leyland, to deliver football equipment he helped pay for as part of a combined initiative involving the Premier League, PFA and Manchester United, Jones decided to set the record straight.
"I didn't expect it and I am disappointed," said Jones.
"It is simply not true. I have represented the Under-19s, the Under-21s and the seniors. I said from the first day I pulled on an England shirt, it sent shivers down my spine.
"How he can come out and say I didn't want to play for the Under-21s is beyond me.
"It wasn't nice to read what he said and I am sure Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is thinking the same thing."
Having missed the first three months of last season, and another six-week period between the middle of February and the beginning of April with a knee injury, Sir Alex Ferguson wanted to protect Jones.
In addition, England boss Roy Hodgson would not countenance any player chosen for the post-season trip to Brazil to also be selected for Under-21 duty.
Hodgson informed Pearce he wanted Jones with him in Rio and the former Blackburn man subsequently completed the full 90 minutes in a 2-2 draw at the Maracana Stadium, having played the second half of a Wembley encounter with Republic of Ireland just four days earlier.
"It was totally out of my hands," said Jones.
"Roy Hodgson came out prior to the Under-21 tournament and said he regarded me as a senior player.
"I went on to play against Ireland and Brazil, so it wasn't a waste of time going with the seniors.
"Probably if I had been on the bench I could have seen where he (Pearce) was coming from but I got a lot of experience from those two games.
"Don't forget also I had just come back from a knee injury, for the second time, and I had to manage it in the right way, control it and make sure I wasn't overusing it.
"That's why I am really disappointed in these comments."
After a dismal performance in Israel, when his side failed to win a game and were eliminated at the group stage, Pearce has now been replaced by Gareth Southgate.
Already Southgate has adopted a more pragmatic view of his role as Under-21 coach, reinforcing Hodgson's belief that the aim of every age group team is to provide players for the England national side.
"People are entitled to their opinions and they can make comments," said Jones.
"I will just get on with my football and ignore it.
"It hasn't dampened my enthusiasm for England though. Definitely not. It is an honour to represent your country at any level and I will continue to enjoy that experience when it happens."
It was an unwanted diversion on a trip back to his old school, which is presently providing lessons to some of the pupils from neighbouring Leyland St Mary's Catholic Technology College, which was burnt down on the eve of the school year earlier this month.
Jones was able to deliver free team strips and training equipment through the initiative, which began in 2011, and involves players from each Barclays Premier League club donating £25,000 per club to create a £500,000 fund.
The money is used to provide for schools, clubs and youth organisations.
In addition, Manchester United also donated a number of items, including signed shirts, to help raise much-needed funds for the school.
"It is always nice to come back," said Jones. "I have a lot of fond memories from here.
"Football was always my number one thing.
"I got scouted for Blackburn at the end of year six in primary school, so when I came here I was already at Blackburn and stayed there right through my high school.
"I used to miss every Tuesday in year 10 and 11 to train with the players from other schools in Blackburn.
"Thankfully it paid off - otherwise I would have got it in the neck from the teachers."