Urca’s Army Fort is the breathtaking base where England are fine-tuning Stheir bid to conquer the world. There, Manchester United’s versatile defender Phil Jones took time out to enthuse to FIFA about the spectacular sights of Cidade Maravilhosa (The Wonderful City) and the spectacular talent of Luke Shaw and Raheem Sterling, as well as the Three Lions’ preparations and expectations.
FIFA: Phil, how are you enjoying Brazil so far?
Phil Jones: It’s exciting to be out here and there’s a real buzz about the place. You know the players are just itching to get out there, building up for the 14th of June, which is going to be a big game.
You’re based at the Urca military base. Have you ever played or trained at a location quite as spectacular?
I think we trained there last year when we came to Brazil, but there are some spectacular views around the training ground, and you know you don’t get many better than that in Rio. It’s going to be special and hopefully we can make it a worthwhile tournament.
What’s the mood like in the camp?
The lads are getting along great. It’s a really tight-knit bunch with the staff and everyone else involved, and we’re all pulling in the right direction to hopefully have a successful tournament out here.
Do you expect to emulate England’s class of ’66?
I think the expectations around England are always going to be high with the calibre of players that are in the side, and you look at how many players that have had great seasons for their clubs and I suppose that’s another reason. But we’ve got to settle them down and be on a realist’s level. I’m sure that if we go about it the right way and play the way we can, and work as a team and dig in for each other, then I’m sure we can get some positive results.
What do you think England’s youngsters can bring?
The players that have come through – the likes of Raheem [Sterling], Luke [Shaw], and let’s not forget Jon Flanagan and John Stones, who have been terrific this season as well – I think there’s a real excitement about those players. They’ve come to light in the last year or two and they’ve done terrifically well. I think everyone’s hoping that they can produce on this stage and we know they can. The ability they have got is enormous and hopefully they can produce it on the big stage.
Roy Hodgson raised a couple of eyebrows when he played Andros Townsend in the qualifiers, but that worked out well. Do you think he’s the sort of coach who will give youngsters a chance in Brazil?
Andros was another player who has helped us massively along the way. I think the gaffer is not frightened at all about putting young players in. He’s shown that throughout the qualifying stages and I don’t think he’d be any different in a tournament like this. The young players here are good enough to play here and I don’t see why it can’t be the case.
What have England’s preparations been like?
The preparations have been incredible right from the word go – in Portugal and then on to Miami. And a lot of people don’t see how much hard work goes in behind the scenes, all for us, but we’ve got to make sure that all that work is worthwhile. You know that old cliché, ‘Take each game as it comes’, but you really do have to do that in these competitions – you can’t be looking forward to other games. Come 14th of June hopefully we can kick off the tournament in style.