Big Sam cautious over Jones fitness

Like Owen, Jones has broken into the Premier League at an

exceptionally early age. Yet Allardyce feels the direct consequence

of Owen’s elevation to international ranks and the Liverpool side

at 18 are the muscular problems that have blighted the second half

of his career. And, as Jones celebrates his first England Under-21

call up for Tuesday’s encounter with Uzbekistan at Ashton Gate,

Allardyce has vowed to adopt an ultra careful approach to the

Lancastrian’s progression. “Phil is 18 and you have to take into

account the delicate state of his body,” said Allardyce. “He has

not matured into an adult yet. “When you are playing in the top

league in the world it can be a huge risk if he is overplayed. “The

perfect example is Michael Owen. Liverpool overplayed him at 18.

All of a sudden he is riddled with hamstring injuries and despite

only being 30 he is now struggling to recapture the form from when

he was 21. “We have to guard against that.” It means Jones might

not feature every week for Blackburn, even if he is set for a

lengthy stint under Stuart Pearce for the young Three Lions. “I

will manage the situation the best way I possibly can, which really

would be for the rest of the team to play at their best so I can

give Phil a little rest here and there. “It won’t happen in the

Under-21s because Stuart Pearce will want him most games, which is

understandable. “I don’t want to put too much pressure on him

because he might take a dip from last season. “If he does that we

will take him to one side until he is ready to come back in. We

will not destroy his confidence.”