Jones disputes Pearce claims of England Under-21 refusal

Manchester United defender Phil Jones has disputed claims by former England Under-21 manager Stuart Pearce that he did not want to play for the Young Lions at this summer’s European Under-21 Championships, the Daily Mail has reported.

Pearce named both Jones and Arsenal’s Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain as two players eligible for the Under-21s who turned down a place in the tournament squad after winning senior caps, with Pearce claiming that they lost interest in playing at Under-21 level once they broke into the senior team.

Jones feels however that the decision to play for the seniors in Brazil rather than the juniors in Israel was taken out of his hands after he was included in the squad of national team manager Roy Hodgson. Jones added that he was hurt by Pearce’s criticism, saying: “I didn’t expect it and I am disappointed.

It is simply not true,” Jones added. “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.

Jones explained that Hodgson had decided any player involved with the senior squad for the end-of-season double header with the Republic of Ireland and Brazil should not then play for the Under-21s over the summer, while, having suffered from a knee injury for a large part of the season, Jones felt he had to avoid over exerting himself.

I went on to play against Ireland and Brazil, so it wasn’t a waste of time going with the seniors,” Jones continued. “‘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 was sacked after England failed to win a game in the competition, exiting at the group stage, with former Middlesbrough manager Gareth Southgate appointed as his replacement.

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