Manchester United defender Phil Jones is relishing the prospect of having to fight for his starting place after a wave of high-calibre new signings at Old Trafford and the possibility of more to follow.
The England international believes the arrival of Matteo Darmian, Memphis Depay, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Morgan Schneiderlin has left United poised to challenge for silverware after a two-year trophy drought.
But the recent additions to Louis van Gaal’s squad have effectively narrowed Jones’s options as the 23-year-old aims to cement his place in United’s new-look starting line-up.
Darmian’s signing has shunted him down the pecking order at right-back while the glut of midfield options means he is unlikely to have any future as a holding player in front of the back four.
It means Jones has only one realistic position to aim for — the right side of central defence — and even that could be in jeopardy if United’s reported pursuit of Real Madrid’s Sergio Ramos comes off.
Nevertheless, Jones is adamant that he welcomes the internal jostling for a starting berth. “It’s great,” Jones said.
“That’s what you relish as a footballer. You want to test yourself against the best players you can play with.
“We’ve got that this year and I look forward to it.
“Competition’s healthy, it’s good for players. If one player’s doing well it makes the other person want to do well.
“That’s exactly what you need, especially at a club like Manchester United.
“We’re always going to sign top players because we’re a top club.”
Jones lined up alongside Dutch international Daley Blind in United’s back four in the opening game of their four-match US tour on Friday in Seattle, with van Gaal later explaining he would seek a centre-back pairing a right-sided player and a left-sided player.
Jones would not be drawn on possible partnerships United could field this season.
“Listen, it’s up to the manager who plays week in, week out,” he said.
“I’m just going to try and do my best and hopefully that’ll be good enough.”
Jones meanwhile enthused about the immediate impact of United’s new signings, and warned the squad was confident of challenging for the title.
“They look bright, they look sharp, they’re great lads and fantastic additions to the squad,” Jones said.
Asked about targeting the Premier League, he added: “That’s the aim. We’ve got the squad now to be able to do that and there’s no reason why we can’t.”
United play the second match of their tour against the San Jose Earthquakes at San Jose’s Avaya Stadium on Tuesday.