The boy Jones rises to the occasion to show why he is England's coming man

 

Podgorica City Stadium

The comparisons between Phil Jones and Duncan Edwards, which began in a casual conversation between Sir Bobby Charlton and Paddy Crerard a month or so back, are premature, of course, much though the 19-year-old's composure always makes him look like the rock in a raging sea which Edwards always was.

No. Where Jones is concerned, the more apposite comparison is the one Sam Allardyce always made when he'd perch on the touchline of the blustery training pitches at Blackburn's Brockhall training ground. It became a standing joke that he'd always call Jones "John Terry" then and he made the comparison publicly after the teenager's commanding debut display in a difficult, attritional match against Chelsea which also had the opposition enthusing about the young man's barreling tackles in the dressing room afterwards.

That was only 18 months ago and last night came a challenge to test even the teenager's appetite for the toughest of them: an England debut at right-back, a position in which Jones had lined up in only once for his 37 career Premier League starts. Jones didn't flinch when asked by Sir Alex Ferguson to fill the position against Bolton last month. The former Balshaws High School pupil, who was still living with his parents in Leyland until this summer, revealed himself as an improbable marauding wing-back, crossing for Wayne Rooney to tap in one of his side's five goals. But a narrow bumpy pitch in eastern Europe, teeming rain, firecrackers and, in Stevan Jovetic, an opponent known in the Fiorentine city where he plays his club football as the best thing since Roberto Baggio – is on another level to a Saturday afternoon at the Reebok. Never mind that this was also the night England needed to set their seal on qualification.

Terry, the player who has spoken so honestly about Jones as the one who "I am looking over my shoulder at", had been in Jones's shoes once upon a time. A febrile foreign atmosphere and England needing a point to qualify for the 2004 finals is what the young Londoner encountered in Turkey when Rio Ferdinand's controversial suspension delivered Terry his third start for England. And though this stadium was no Istanbul cauldron, the individuals bearing down the left flank – the Montenegrins' preferred route of attack – were at least as challenging as those which Terry faced eight years back.

The evidence of Jones's composure arrived before any player in red and yellow had run at him, when the marauding wing-back of the Reebok revealed himself again. Vladimir Bozovic barely seemed to exist as Jones powered past him and lofted a cross which Mladen Bozovic almost fumbled into his own net inside two minutes. It would have been one of the fastest goals a new England defender has ever scored.

The boot was soon on the other foot, as Jones knew it would be from the minute he saw Jovetic and his flowing locks line up against him. The game wasn't 10 minutes old before Jones was flat on his backside on the greasy turf, Simon Vukcevic danced around him playing in Mirko Vucinic, the individual England knew most threatened them.

It was Scott Parker, rather than Terry, who contributed most to seeing Jones through this baptism, though. Parker's interventions when Montenegro threatened his flank contributed again to the sense that England might have fared better last summer had Fabio Capello appreciated his ability sooner.

The picture wasn't quite as pretty where Theo Walcott is concerned. The sight of Jones, gesturing to him where he ought to have been, revealed a teenage debutant wise beyond his years. Walcott cast a glance at Capello after one of Jones's corrective messages. The manager's signal confirmed that the 19-year-old had had it right.

The challenge was fairly unceasing. It took some sangfroid for Jones to duck into a ball cast long across the field for Jovetic, with the danger man lurking on his shoulder, to head it back to the safety of Joe Hart. He also got a break with one of his less precise challenges on Jovetic in the penalty area at 2-1.

It was a clear glimpse of the future, though. Jones is too assured a centre-half to be anything other than that when England take a heavy weight of expectations into another tournament next summer. In next month's friendlies with Spain and probably Portugal, expect him to shuffle five yards into the boots Gary

Cahill filled last night, now that his pedigree is assured.

For now, though, he has revealed his fearlessness. "One of my strong points is that, no matter what anyone says about me, it will not affect me," Jones said this summer. "It's because I believe in my ability and what I can achieve." The grounds for this confidence are patently clear. Allardyce called it right.

Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm today
News
people
News
Elton John and David Furnish exchange marriage vows
peopleSinger posts pictures of nuptials throughout the day
News
File: James Woods attends the 52nd New York Film Festival at Walter Reade Theater on September 27, 2014
peopleActor was tweeting in wake of NYPD police shooting
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Martin Skrtel heads in the dramatic equaliser
SPORTLiverpool vs Arsenal match report: Bandaged Martin Skrtel heads home in the 97th-minute
News
Billie Whitelaw was best known for her close collaboration with playwright Samuel Beckett, here performing in a Beckett Trilogy at The Riverside Studios, Hammersmith
people'Omen' star was best known for stage work with Samuel Beckett
Arts and Entertainment
Mark Wright has won The Apprentice 2014
tvThe Apprentice 2014 final
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Darrell Banks’s ‘Open The Door To Your Heart’
music
News
Detective Tam Bui works for the Toronto Police force
news
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'