Jose Mourinho has confirmed that Phil Jones was nursing a knee injury during Manchester United’s 2-0 win over Leicester City.
The Englishman failed to impress upon being rushed back from injury during the latter stages of last season, receiving criticism for performances against Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur, which ultimately cost him a place in the side for the Europa League final.
But he has been impeccable at the back ever since starting alongside Eric Bailly against Manchester City in Houston, producing solid defensive displays with the Ivorian during Man United’s opening three league games this season.
Mourinho confirmed soon after yet another clean sheet for Jones that he was contending with an ankle injury ahead of joining up with the England squad for World Cup qualifiers against Malta and Slovenia.
“He’s potentially a very good player, he’s still young and in a learning age but for years and years and years he was injury prone and he has a problem now, he has a problem now, he’s complaining about an ankle problem so he’s the kind of player where we need to have him always in our hands with a lot of care from the medical department the fitness coach, my assistants in the gym, working on prevention and recovery,” he said.
“If we manage to have him safe from injuries he is everything I like in a central defender.”
Mourinho will not want to see the indomitable partnership of Jones and Bailly broken up ahead of what promises to be a busy – and defining – month as United begin their defence of the League Cup and Champions League adventure.
Defence remains an area that could be exposed this season. An injury to Jones immediately disrupts the balance, with Victor Lindelof still needing time to settle in, Marcos Rojo on the sidelines until at least December and Chris Smalling being Chris Smalling. Perhaps this is why Mourinho has sent scouts to watch Valencia’s Ezequiel Garay as a potential additional option.
Supporters will just hope that Jones can break the cycle and shake off any nagging afflictions ahead of United’s clash with Stoke City.