England's Phil Jones challenges Sweden's Johan Elmander during their international friendly soccer match in London
England's Phil Jones challenges Sweden's Johan Elmander (R) during their international friendly soccer match at Wembley Stadium in London, November 15, 2011. REUTERS

Former Manchester United captain Ray Wilkins has praised the huge strides made by Old Trafford youngster Phil Jones this season, although he admits the 19-year-old's versatility could work against him in the long run.

Jones has featured for Manchester United more than any other player this season despite being in his debut season at the current Premier League champions.

The former Blackburn Rovers starlet has operated at right-back, central defence and in midfield for Manchester United and England thus far, and although he has been widely praised for both his level of performances and his superb versatility, Wilkins suggests it may prevent him from establishing himself in one position.

Despite his capacity to play in a number of positions, central defence is widely considered to be where he is at his best, but Fabio Capello is yet to play him there, and Sir Alex Ferguson has rarely played the emerging Old Trafford star in the heart of his defence.

Wilkins suggests in the future, Jones will inevitably prefer to play in his ideal role for Manchester United and England, but acknowledges the luxury of having such a good player who is capable of playing in a variety of positions.

"This might also be a game for the younger lads, like Danny Welbeck, if he's passed fit, and Phil Jones to shine in. Jones has done tremendously well wherever he's been asked to play but he does have a little problem." The Former Manchester United captain told skysports.com.

"He's as versatile as an egg, which means he is yet to establish himself in any one position.

"I think we all agree centre-back is where he'll end up but for now, it's a lovely luxury to be able to slot him wherever and know he'll do a fantastic job - and that includes midfield."

Jones is currently one of the most talked about talents in the English game, with many comparing the defender to some of football's greatest ever players, such as Duncan Edwards, Roy Keane and Franco Baresi, but his manager is confident the youngster has the confidence and assurance to deal with the acclaim even if he acknowledges some of it can be unhelpful.

"I don't think putting pressure on him is a big worry. Not at this club," Sir Alex said, according to The Sunday Mirror.

"You don't need to put unnecessary ­pressure on him, but I think he'll find his own way all right.

"It's difficult to make comparisons with other players. He's a ­dynamic player, he's quick, he's two-footed.

"He's got a great attitude to playing and he'll be a good player.

"It certainly helps a young player's ­education to play different positions - if he can do it. And he can. Centre-half will probably be his best position eventually.

"He's got leadership ­qualities and that kind of thing, but he could play anywhere. It's too early to talk about captaincy. That's the kind of pressure he doesn't need.

"He's only 19."