Bryan Robson praises Phil Jones as he seeks to regain fitness

Former Manchester United captain Bryan Robson feels Phil Jones can still be an asset to the club.

Jones made a friendly appearance as a substitute behind closed doors against Burnley last week.

But we haven’t seen him in competitive United action since January 2020, when United beat Tranmere 6-0.

Jones actually scored that day, but didn’t make a matchday squad for the whole of last season.

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Robson ran the rule over the United squad for the club’s official website and said when assessing the defence: “We’ve got Victor Lindelof, Eric Bailly and Phil Jones.

“Phil’s hardly played any football over the last couple of years but we all see, when he does play, he’s a very good player.

“If Phil stays fit, then that’s great experience and a very good player. So centre-half-wise we are looking strong, we’ve got a lot of competition there.”

“You need that in the modern game. A big squad is always really important, so you can freshen things up.”

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Loan interest in Jones

As Robson eluded to there, Jones is fifth-choice centre-half at United – at best.

Axel Tuanzebe has joined Aston Villa on loan because he wouldn’t get enough football behind the options United have.

Jones’ fitness issues have been so severe and enduring that he cannot be relied upon even as a squad option this season.

United would need to get central defensive injuries like Liverpool had last term in order to turn to Jones.

And even then, he’s still got work to do to get his match-fitness up and get to the point where he can start matches.

Jones joined United as a player of great potential, but he is very much a last resort now.

If he can get his fitness together, a loan move would be best for the Englishman, to a club where he’s higher up the pecking order and has a chance to get games – as well as a fresh start.

90Min report that Fulham, Watford and Newcastle are interested in Jones, with a loan the most realistic option.

United would still paying be the majority of his wages, but at least Jones would be back playing, getting his career back on track and putting himself in the shop window.

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Sam Preston is an NCTJ gold standard news and sports journalist who studied with the Press Association. He also has a 2:1 law with French law degree from the University of Birmingham, which included a year studying at Bordeaux Montaigne University. He is an FA Level 1 football coach who appeared on the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire show in 2018 and has also written digital football content and match-day programme pieces for Colchester United, Mansfield Town and Stockport County.