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Injury woes or just a precaution as Jones returns early from England squad

Rumours are Phil Jones is made from a very fine porcelain, something that contributes heavily to the spate of injuries the Manchester United and England Centre Back has encountered during his relatively short career. It is hard to believe he is still just 25 years of age when you consider how long he has been at Old Trafford, and the tag of up-and-comer has long since been forgotten as the injury-blighted period he has endured saw to that potential ebbing away to seemingly nothing. But as the Manchester Evening News reports of another knock back in his quest for permanent fitness, the word that it is a precaution ahead of a tough run of fixtures show the upturn in fortunes for Jones.

You could put his recent run of games down to a shortage in the department – with Marcos Rojo injured, Victor Lindelof adjusting and Daley Blind the only other stand-in – but if you look deeper into it you will see his performances actually deserve the run out he is finally being given. Jones is as brave as they come, he’s not scared to put his fragile body on the line for the team (part of his problem) and he can tackle, has pace and isn’t half bad on the ball. So far this season, the Phil Jones we all hoped would appear when he first joined has finally looked like doing so.

Where Jones has never played consistently enough to either progress or regress, and when you compare his growth to that of teammate and compatriot Chris Smalling you could be forgiven for believing the former being a better player than the latter. Smalling was a behemoth for a good 12 months under Louis van Gaal but reverted to type in the debut season of Jose Mourinho and he looked a shadow of the player he was a matter of months before. Smalling fell from potential captain to rotation option quicker than a stone from a roof. Jones, on the other hand, he is a completely different matter. Smalling was granted the exposure almost by default and it is an experience Jones has lacked due to his fitness worries. If it was reversed, I doubt Smalling would still be at the club.

It is never nice to see talent blighted by factors out of their control, but the continuing support shown towards Jones by all four of his Manchester United managers is a testament to how good a player he is when he has no problems. Being withdrawn on a precaution ahead of three massive fixtures show the regard he is held in by Jose Mourinho and how important he has proven himself in his partnership with Eric Bailly at the heart of the defence. You hope this most recent setback to be just a setback, and if he continues to maintain a period free of pain I have my suspicions he can become a mainstay for years to come. There are plenty of ifs and buts where Jones is concerned, but at just 25 there is plenty of time to turn fortunes around.

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