We’ll take anyone: Manchester United’s Phil Jones eager to get stuck into Champions League knockout stages

By Paddy von Behr

Phil Jones is looking forward to getting his teeth into the Champions League knockout stages, as Manchester United seek to put last season’s howler behind them.

The young England defender missed most of this season start through injury, but hopes to feature against CFR Cluj on Wednesday and throughout the campaign.

And despite Europe’s elite competition kicking into next gear, Jones is ready for the challenge of the big stage and well aware of the quality of opponents in the knockout stages.

“There are no bad teams in the Champions League,” said Jones.

“It doesn’t matter who you get it’s always going to be a very difficult game, home and away.

“We’re just looking forward to being in the knockout stages and are relishing the challenge.”

United suffered Premier League heartbreak in the final group game of last season, after failing to qualify from what appeared a simple Champions League task.

And Jones remembers how difficult it was to come to terms with, especially for a club with United’s history and expectations.

“It’s not a nice feeling to get knocked out of the Champions League especially when you’re used to being in semi-finals and finals and winning it,” he added.

“For a club of Manchester United’s stature it’s not an easy thing to deal with – it was a bitter pill to swallow.”

United have already secured qualification to the last 16, but they could help decide Cluj’s fate on Wednesday night.

Jones looks set to start the game alongside Nemanja Vidic, who also returns from a lengthy period on the side lines.

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