Chris Samba admits the hype was justified around Phil Jones, 10 years on from the defender making his Premier League debut.

Jones starred for Rovers, alongside Samba in central defence, when thrown in for his first league start in a 1-1 draw with Chelsea on March 21 2010.

He would play just 40 times for Rovers before a move to Manchester United the following summer, but despite being tipped for the top and a future England captain, things haven’t quite worked out for Jones, now 28.

He is frozen out at his club and hasn’t represented his country since the World Cup in 2018, though former team-mate Samba believes injuries have played their part.

“The names of the people he’s been put in a bracket with are justified, he looked like he had that ceiling,” Samba told the BBC.

“Unfortunately, longevity, injuries, they have been against him but that’s what football is.

“He could have been much more and he was already an international.

“Injury changed everything.”

And it was the rate of Jones’ progression that really impressed Samba.

He added: “When Phil Jones was in the reserves, on the way to coming to us, sometimes he was training with us and I was like ‘hmm, no, I don’t think so’.

“But the more time that passed by, and the more he trained with us, the more I was like ‘wow’.

“He changed so fast from someone you’d look at and think ‘hmm, I’m not sure about him’ to a year later you’re like ‘wow, that’s some player.

“I remember a game where two central defenders were injured and Sam Allardyce came to me and said ‘Chris, what do you think, would you mind playing with Phil Jones?’ and I was like ‘no, of course, if this is his chance, let him play’.

“From the first minute he smashed Drogba, he had the crowd behind him and after about 70 minutes he was like ‘come on, Chris’.

“He was unbelievable, I’ve never seen progression like that. In the period of two years he was like a different player.”