PHIL Jones needs to start just three more Premier League games to reach his season goal at Blackburn Rovers – you get the feeling the starlet’s targets may have moved on a little since making that.

The 18-year-old started pre-season just looking to build on his breaking into the first team at the end of last campaign. Boy, has he managed to do that and some.

When Jones set himself a target of 15 starts this time round, he was obviously not daring to dream about hitting the heights he is currently at – an ever present and now a possible England call-up.

Jones is expected to make his 13th consecutive league start at White Hart Lane this afternoon and then could follow that up by being named in Fabio Capello’s England squad to face France at Wembley in a friendly on Wednesday.

Having been left out of Stuart Pearce’s under 21 squad, Jones is understood to have already have been named in Capello’s provisional 30-man squad, but will have to wait for this evening to know whether he has made the final cut of 22.

Not that Jones is about to take anything for granted.

He said: “Things have happened so quick. But time doesn’t stand still. So far it’s been a good start to the season but I need to continue it.

“I set a target at the start of the season. I made nine starts last season and thought if I could make 15 starts I’d be happy. So far on course to do that. I’ve started every game.

“I don’t really set goals but I do set my standards high. I just concentrate on my football. The speculation isn’t something I take too much notice of.

“I have just to keep playing well for Blackburn and if it (England) happens it happens.

“I still see myself as a centre back but going into midfield can only improve my game.”

The Chorley-born defender has been no stranger to speculation about his future in recent months, including stories about his international hopes and the possible interest of the Premier League’s big guns.

Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti’s quotes likening him to Blues skipper John Terry have only heightened the speculation but Jones takes it all ‘with a pinch of salt’.

“It’s nice to hear, it’s nice to get praised. But all I can do is keep playing well for Blackburn,” he said. “I take each game as it comes and I have to produce the goods again on Saturday.

“I just concentrate on my own game, I know if I’m playing to the best of my ability it will help the side a lot. If I can keep doing it then great. I just want to keep my head down and keep doing it for Blackburn.

“I read what Ancelotti said and I spoke to John Terry after the game the other week. He just said to me, ‘Well done and keep going’.

“That was nice of him – he didn’t have to say that.

“I have had a bit of stick from the other lads, but I don’t mind – it’s nice to hear things like that.

“I used to model my game on John Terry, I watched him a lot on the television.

“Now I try and develop my own game by watching my own clips and seeing where I went wrong and right.”

So how does Jones feel about his latest challenge? He has already stopped the likes of Didier Drogba and Wayne Rooney in their tracks but knows the tests keep on coming as he prepares to face Spurs.

A centre back by trade, Jones has actually made most of his Premier League appearances in midfield this season but doesn’t seem to care as he enjoys his education.

He said: “Spurs are a Champions League team now so they’re bound to have world class players in their side, but we’re going there full of confidence.

“We’ve won the last two games, there’s no pressure. Hopefully we can get something out of it.

“Van der Vaart is a really talented player but we have our players who can do things for us.

“We have to snuff out their main players and concentrate on playing our own game.

“We have to do what we can to stop them. It’s going to be hard.

“Not playing in my natural position is not easy but I’m learning as time goes on.

“It can only help me when I move back to centre back, which is where I see myself. I’m enjoying it in midfield.”

Jones may still be a shy, quietly-spoken lad off the pitch but on the field he showed at Newcastle on Wednesday night he isn’t scared of saying what he thinks.

An abiding image of that 2-1 midweek win in the north east was Jones screaming at Nikola Kalinic for letting his man run past him in the first half.

He said: “Just because you’re a young lad doesn’t mean you're not up for it. If you have to tell someone, you have to tell them.

“I probably wouldn’t have done it at the start, it comes with confidence, training with them every day, speaking to them.

“You earn that respect.”