Blackburn Rovers defender Phil Jones has revealed ahead of his proposed move to Manchester United that he has always tried to model his game on Rio Ferdinand.
Jones looks set to join United after undergoing a medical at the club’s Carrington training ground on Wednesday, with Blackburn reportedly having already accepted a bid for his services believed to be in the region of £16.5 million.
The England Under-21 star’s intelligence and poise on the field has seen him employed in midfield on several occasions with Blackburn, and has also led to him being hailed in some quarters as the long-term successor to Ferdinand in the senior national side.
Jones himself admits he has often looked to the United defender, along with England team-mates John Terry and Michael Dawson, for inspiration as he looks to hone his skills.
"I've always said I aspire to follow John Terry, Michael Dawson, Rio Ferdinand - I always watch what they do and try and learn from them,” the 19-year-old said in The Sun.
"Defending isn't just about tackling and heading, it's also about getting the ball down and playing. Starting the attack from the back.
"Getting forward is a natural part of my game. I like to step in and take the strikers out of the game.
"If you have that in your game and can do it well, it's only going to benefit the team as well."
The race to sign Jones has been a hotly-contested one, with Arsenal and Liverpool also believed to have been very keen on acquiring his services, but the young defender says he tries not to dwell on all the interest in him.
"My mates pick up the paper on a Saturday morning and will say to me: 'Oh, you're in the paper again' - but it just goes in one ear and out the other,” he added.
"I just concentrate on my football. Compliments are nice and I appreciate it but I just focus on improving myself as a player."
By Liam Twomey