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ESPN FC Posted by ESPN staff
Sep 13, 2013

Jones denies England Under-21 snub

Manchester United defender Phil Jones has strongly denied Stuart Pearce's claims that he turned down the England Under-21 side this summer, insisting "it is simply not true".

Phil Jones and Luiz Gustavo England v Brazil
Jones was accused of turning his back on England's Under-21 side.

Former Young Lions boss Pearce hit out at Jones and Arsenal's Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain earlier in the week, accusing them of turning their backs on the Under-21 side after they entered the "golden ivory towers" of senior football.

Jones revealed his disappointment at Pearce's statements and said the only reason he didn't feature in England's Euro Under-21 campaign was due to his involvement in Roy Hodgson's side for the Three Lions' post-season friendly in Brazil.

"I didn't expect it and I am disappointed," Jones said. "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.

"It was totally out of my hands. 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."

Pearce's successor, Gareth Southgate, has agreed with Hodgson's insistence that the Under-21 side is largely part of the production line for England's senior side and Jones is committed to continuing his growth through the national team ranks.

"People are entitled to their opinions and they can make comments," he added. "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."

Information from the Press Association was used in this report.

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