Friday, October 15, 2021

Jones set for Man Utd return after long injury absence

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 21 Sep 2021

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Phil Jones is set to make his return to action for Manchester United after Ole Gunnar Solskjaer confirmed the defender will be in his squad for the EFL Cup tie with West Ham.

The 29-year-old has not played for the Red Devils since January 2020 due to a debilitating knee problem that has dogged him throughout his career.

Jones scored on his last appearance, against Tranmere Rovers in the FA Cup, and opened up on his emotional recovery trail in an interview with the Times this past weekend.

After featuring for United’s Under-23s, however, the centre-back is finally ready to make his return to first-team action, starting with Wednesday’s clash at Old Trafford.

“I’m so happy for Phil,” Solskjaer told MUTV. “He has completed two 90 minutes for the Under-23s, played some minutes behind closed doors and he’s got no reaction on his knee.

“He’s been working really hard. I’ve been part of that myself and had the best part of three years, or at least more than two out of three years, and I know what challenges he’s been through, mentally, thinking ‘will I ever play football again or even be able to walk again and be able to play with the kids in the garden’. 

“He’s been so diligent and so professional; no frills, no social media and I’m old school. I like players like that. He just focuses on one thing and gets his head around the challenges and he’s back.

“He will be in the squad. It’s a good day for him and for us, and it’s something that he has earned.”

This will be the fourth EFL Cup meeting between Man Utd and West Ham, who met in the league on Sunday (United prevailing 2-1 in dramatic circumstances), with the home side progressing in each of the previous three.

West Ham have been knocked out of the competition on six of the last eight occasions when paired with fellow Premier League sides, including on each of the last three in 2017-18 (v Arsenal), 2018-19 (Spurs) and 2020-21 (Everton).

United, however, have lost their last two EFL Cup matches at Old Trafford – though both have come at the semi-final stage against Manchester City. 

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