Manchester United defender Phil Jones has reflected on his injury woes during his time at Old Trafford. Although he was disappointed by United’s 1-1 draw with Arsenal on Saturday, he was pleased to have made his first appearance at Old Trafford since the 2nd January 2016.
The former Blackburn Rovers man-made his return to Jose Mourinho’s side in United’s away win at the Liberty Stadium against Swansea City on the 6th November, and to be perfectly honest, didn’t look rusty or out-of-place considering he has hardly kicked a ball in the last 10 months.
Jones spoke to the official Manchester United website on his comeback and his “awful” experience of being injured. When asked about his comeback and how mentally tough it was being injured for so long, the centre-back said;
“It was great, personally, for me. I really enjoyed it. It’s been a difficult period for me, so it was nice to have back-to-back games against Swansea and Arsenal. It is good to be back in the fold and playing again. It is awful but as a footballer you can’t feel sorry for yourself, go into a little hole and never come out of your home. You have got to go about your day as you would normally, work hard in training and I have worked to get back to where I am now. I want to stay here and I want to play more games”.
As mentioned, Jones didn’t look as though he’d been deprived of football for 10 months through injury and has settled into the side immediately. His reading of the game, particularly against Arsenal was marvellous and he always seemed to be in the right place at the right time against the Gunners. Jones addressed the matter by saying;
“I have worked hard on my fitness, it has been tough mentally for me and it has been so frustrating. I can’t put into words how frustrating it has been, but that is behind me and I want to move forward to play as many games as I can. I am ready to play but I think I have also got to look after myself as well and think right. If I do feel something then I am honest, but I am ready, I am fit and ready to play”.
Many United fans could see the potential in Jones when Sir Alex Ferguson signed him back in 2011, and the defender had even been compared to the legendary Duncan Edwards– a huge comparison to make.
When Jose Mourinho was appointed, I think many fans, myself included, were hoping Jose could get Jones out of this injury rut and develop him to the next level. Mourinho hailed Jones’ performance at Swansea and praised his bravery after the game. Jones says it’s nice to have the manager in his corner;
“It is nice for any player to hear the manager say nice things. He has been great for us since he has come in, he shows a lot of confidence in all of the players which is great”.
Jones says that the injuries of Chris Smalling and Eric Bailly have presented him with an opportunity and he has to take it.
“I can’t keep thinking it is an opportunity because sometimes that can play on your mind. I am just focusing on game to game, playing football, doing what I love doing and I will go from there.”
He believes he is as hungry as anyone to play football, now he has got himself fit;
“Listen, everyone is hungry to play football, but I am just as hungry as anyone else. I want to play, I want to fight for this club and I will do that until somebody tells me to stop”.
If Phil Jones can get himself fully fit and stay that way until the end of the season, then who knows, he may stay at the club after all. Many believe his days are numbered at the club as he is too injury prone to compete at this level. Admittedly, he has impressed with his performances at Swansea and against Arsenal. If he can stay fit, and I hope he can, he may provide United with an extra option at the back.