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Arsenal can lay down a marker

Arsenal
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Ferguson: Jones is "an animal"

Sir Alex Ferguson has heaped praise on Phil Jones and his versatility, labelling him "an animal for football".

• Manchester derby preview
• Blog: Fans fear for future

Jones, 21, signed for United in 2011 after impressing Ferguson with his level of performance at Blackburn where he was also tracked by Arsenal.

His development at Old Trafford has been interrupted by injury but Ferguson has not held back in outlining just how big a part the England international has to play in his future plans.

He told Inside United: "Jones is going to be a fantastic player. His talent is unbelievable. His best position is centre-back but you could play him anywhere. I think you could play him centre-forward. He's just that type of player.

"He's an animal for football. He grasps the game, he understands it. Play him right-back? Brilliant. Play him centre midfield? No problem. Play him centre-back? Terrific.

"He's just one of those unusual players you get now and again who can play anywhere. We've not had a player like him in terms of someone who can play at that performance level since - well, the closest you could get would be Brian McClair."

Ferguson also singled out Jonny Evans, claiming the defender can be a United regular for many years to come.

"He's 25 years old now and, hopefully, for the next six or seven years, he could be a regular centre-back for us," Ferguson added.

"Obviously, Rio (Ferdinand) is 34 and (Nemanja) Vidic is 31. Patrice Evra is 31 so, in that sense, players like (Chris) Smalling, Jones and Evans will come to the fore."

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