Days after insisting he could play a role as an emergency option, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer backtracked over Phil Jones.
Jones did not travel with United’s first team to Germany for the Europa League due to an ongoing injury problem.
Solskjaer told the club website: “Phil has been following an individualised training programme during the post-lockdown period to optimise recovery from a knee problem.”
The Mirror reported one option for Jones was to undergo surgery. United are said to have decided against this as it would rule him out until 2021.
The objective is to sell Jones, a player who played just two Premier League games this past season.
The problem is that Jones is not a very attractive buy for clubs right now either.
Jones presents a serious injury risk for teams looking to take him on. There is a very real chance he would fail a medical.
With it already suggested via the media that Jones would ideally have required an operation on his knee, teams will be fearful of signing him and sending him for surgery weeks later.
United are obviously working with him to get him up to speed, but there is no instant deal to be done here, despite alleged interest from West Ham (The Independent).
Perhaps the success of Chris Smalling with Roma will tempt a foreign team to make a move. Yet the injury issue presents a real problem.
Jones has been at United since 2011 and failed to live up to the high hopes everybody had for him. Injuries have been a large part of that.
It is most likely that if Jones is sold, United will have to wait until close to the transfer deadline on October 5. This extra time provides ample chance for him to try and prove his fitness.
While United want to generate extra cash, a loan deal may end up being all that can be done.
This would allow Jones time to prove his fitness to the club who takes him on, and others, along with his ability on the pitch.
It remains crazy that United tied Jones down to a contract until 2023 last year (BBC) with an option for a further year.
Getting his wages off the club’s books has to be a priority now, but it won’t be easy.
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