Man United’s forgotten man Phil Jones opens up on injury struggles

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Manchester United's manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer leaves the pitch with Welsh midfielder Daniel James (2L), defender Phil Jones (2R) and Aaron Wan-Bissaka after the EPL tie between Manchester United and Burnley at Old Trafford in Manchester, on January 22, 2020. [Paul Ellis, AFP]

Manchester United defender Phil Jones has opened up on his recent injury struggles while firing back at former teammate Rio Ferdinand’s ‘waste of time’ comment. 

The 29-year-old has not made an appearance for Man United seniors since an FA Cup tie in January 2020 due to a knee injury, which was operated on last summer.

Speaking to the Times, Jones fired back at Ferdinand, who claimed he was taking up a youth player’s position in the Man United squad.

 “Listen, the respect I’ve got is enormous. I’ve shared a dressing room with Rio, great professional. Loved playing with him. Great lad, good humour. Learnt so much off him. But what he said was poor. Really poor. I’m not into disputes, not into arguments, and if he didn’t know, he didn’t know,” said Jones. 

In a separate interview with Man United Podcast, Jones went on to reveal how severe his injury was while holding on to hope he will make a full recovery and return to action. 

"I’ve been through hell and back over the last couple of years. I struggled with my knee a little bit and there came a point after lockdown where I thought enough was enough. I kept myself in great shape over lockdown and came back. But I remember just training out here and going into the doc and saying ‘enough’s enough’. Unfortunately, there was going to be time off the pitch, which I knew was going to be difficult for me, but it was something that I had to do,” Jones explained. 

Jones hopes to make a full return to competitive football on the pitch and has returned to first-team training. 

Jones in action with Swansea's Bafetimbi Gomis [Reuters, Matthew Childs]

“Thankfully, I see the light at the end of the tunnel now, and I’ve been back training, played a few behind-closed-doors games and I’m feeling really good at the minute. It’s so good to be back out training with the lads and enjoying being a footballer again because for the last 15 months, it’s been all ‘daddy daycare’ and not much football,” said Jones. 

Jones, however, has featured for the Under 23’s against Burnley and Stoke City and played a full 90 minutes away to Arsenal. On Saturday, he played another full game against Brighton in Premier League 2 at Leigh Sports Village. The team won 2-1. 

Jones revealed his path to recovery has been difficult, admitting finding it tough to watch football matches. 

 “You try and get a balance between football and family life but it was so difficult going home and trying to look after the kids. You’re there, but you’re not there, you’re not present. It’s nice to get that balance back. I think at first, I’ll be brutally honest, I found it really tough to watch football, just in general because you can’t do anything about it. You’re stuck, you’re off your feet. Coming into the training ground every day, it’s hard to get going because you’re going to be out for so long and I knew that getting the operation,” said the centre back.

Man United’s next fixture is an EFL Cup tie at home to West Ham United on Wednesday, September 22 at 9:45 EAT. 

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