Analysis: Will injury-prone Man Utd defender Phil Jones ever realise his potential?

Manchester United signed Phil Jones way back in 2011 from Blackburn for £17million.

The 19-year-old centre back had already impressed enough to see England’s biggest clubs take a keen interest.

Jones was seen as the future of both Manchester United and England in the centre back department and Sir Alex Ferguson was looking to use Jones and Chris Smalling together as the next Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic.

Injuries though have hampered Jones’ development along the way.

In fact, Jones’ injury problems have been an issue for him since his Blackburn days where he suffered a cruciate knee ligament issue that kept him out of the side for over two months.

He’s had further problems with his knee since joining Manchester United too and this has been a factor in him only making 176 appearances so far with not all of them coming at centre half.

You could understand a player having further knee issues after an original injury, but with Jones he seems to just pick injuries up regularly and they’re not just limited to his knees either.

Sportingbet spokesman says the problem is that long absences from the side allow others to come in and take his place.

This has also worked against Jones who’s a centre half by trade but has seen himself deployed in other positions such as right back and also in a defensive midfield role.

This will also hinder his development as a player as he’s often not playing in his favoured role gaining vital experience and understanding with his partner at the back.

When Jones has had a solid run in the side where he has managed to remain fit for a large period of time, his abilities have definitely come to the fore.

So you could say that at only 25 years old, there is still plenty of time for him to realise his potential as a top quality centre back for both Manchester United and England, despite the arrival of Eric Bailly.

Indeed, Ferguson’s idea was of Smalling and Jones being the future centre back pairing at the club.

So, if Jones can get regular games under his belt, alongside a regular centre back partner who he can build a good understanding with, he’s sure to prove himself as one of the best in the league and also one of the best at the disposal of the England manager.

It’s vital that his injury problems are behind him though and after making a good start to the season, playing the full 90 minutes in every league game so far, he went off after on 23 minutes against Huddersfield with injury.

Luck was on his side this time as he is set to make his return in their next league outing against Spurs on Saturday after missing the Carabao Cup victory over Swansea.

So things may certainly be looking up for the England international on the injury front, finally.

Image courtesy of FATV via YouTube, with thanks.

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