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Football | Barclays Premier League

Jones not fazed by demotion – Fergie



Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson has no issues with Phil Jones dropping into the England under-21 squad, but admits players can sometimes struggle with the demotion.

Jones, 20, was included in Roy Hodgson's squad for Euro 2012 and has won five full international caps.

But he has been selected in Stuart Pearce's under-21 squad for next week's friendly with Sweden and could be involved in this year's Under-21 European Championship.

The United manager is surprised Jones has been included in the junior group, but has no concerns about the player's reaction.

"I haven't paid much attention to it, but I'm surprised he's in the under-21s and not the full squad," Ferguson said on Friday.

"It's happened quite a few times to players and it's understandable, but for the players that's more difficult to manage because once a player gets into a full squad, he thinks he's achieved what he wants to achieve.

"Taking the step back can be hard to manage, but he's 20 and maybe he's as good as the under-21 squad are going to get."

United could move 10 points clear of Manchester City, who host Liverpool on Sunday, with a victory at Fulham on Saturday.

Ferguson's side were pushed all the way by Southampton in their 2-1 win over Southampton in mid-week.

But Ferguson is not worried about his players losing focus over the 14 remaining matches.

"Every game is treated the same way," he said.

"You saw the effort Southampton put in and it was a reminder to us that you get three points for every game, not just the top of the league, but the lower part (as well).

"Last year we lost at home to Blackburn and it's easy to say that cost us the league. I don't expect my players to become complacent. Wednesday is a great reminder, but I don't expect that."

Ferguson also reacted to the transfer deadline day farce that saw West Bromwich Albion striker Peter Odemwingie drive to Queens Park Rangers' stadium, only to be told a fee had not been agreed between the two clubs.

"I don't know the full circumstances," said the United manager.

"I don't know whether he thought he had permission or thought the deal was done, but he had a wasted journey anyway!"

Ferguson hopes that the Old Trafford surface will be sorted out by the time of their next home game against Everton.

United will re-lay the pitch in the summer and Ferguson complained about the state of it after the mid-week win over Southampton.

"It's not good and we'll be changing the whole pitch in the summer, but we've got 10 days before Everton and 10 days before Reading and as we get into February there's more light now, which will help regenerate the pitch," he said.

"Tony (Sinclair) the groundsman works his socks off and he's been as concerned as anyone. He's disappointed and we're doing our best to get it ready for Everton.

"We've got 10 days and hopefully that makes a difference. It's still recovering from the deluge of rain at the Newcastle and West Brom games and it's never been the same.

"Up until then it was fine, but we've had this pitch since Tony took over nine years ago and it's been great.

"If you go back before that we had to renew it once or twice a season and it held but it wasn't perfect and the turf would come off in slide tackles and that's not particularly safe.

"We've declined to replace the turf because we believe that Tony will get it right. We've got the lights on it all the time and hopefully we get better weather.

"A bit of sun helps and it's much milder than it was last week and the more light we get, the better the pitch will be."

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