Jose Mourinho has confirmed that Phil Jones was nursing an ankle injury during Manchester United’s 2-0 win over Leicester last weekend.
The Englishman made an unexpected rise to indispensability at the back alongside Marcos Rojo last season, starting with a solid performance against Swansea City back in November, and he was a crucial aspect of an unbeaten Premier League run stretching from October to May. But an inevitable injury came in April whilst on international duty, during which he also managed to injure Chris Smalling. The Englishman was rushed back to the first team amid a chaotic final month of the season at United and he dramatically struggled to impress against Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur before being overlooked for the Europa League final.
He was notably short of fitness at the time and immediately set about proving himself to Mourinho over pre-season, producing solid performances against Manchester City and Real Madrid. And he has carried such brilliance into the new campaign alongside Eric Bailly: the pair have been indomitable and working in perfect tandem as United enter the international break having not conceded a goal in their opening three games.
But Mourinho, speaking after the game, revealed that Jones – somewhat unsurprisingly – had picked up 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.”