Phil Jones asks to play in under-23s clash to build 'match sharpness'

Manchester United centre back Phil Jones has asked to play for the club’s under-23 side in their final game before the winter break.

Neil Wood’s youngsters host Chelsea’s under-23s on Friday (17 December) at Leigh Sports Village in a Premier League 2 Division One clash.

Following the clash against the Blues, United’s under-23 side don’t play again until 10 January 2022.

However, according to the Athletic, Jones is reportedly ‘determined to increase his match sharpness’, in case he is called upon by Ralf Rangnick, or ahead of a potential move away from Old Trafford, in the January transfer window.

Photo by Matthew Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images

The German coach has reportedly been ‘impressed’ by the former England international’s application in training, and it is claimed he would have selected Jones in last week’s Champions League dead rubber against Young Boys, if he had been registered in the squad.

The 29-year-old was ineligible to face the Swiss champions as Rangnick made 11 changes and gave debuts to a number of the club’s youngsters.

Although Jones has been an unused substitute in the last four Premier League games, the former Blackburn Rovers man hasn’t played any football for two months.

His last appearance came for the club’s under-23 side against his former side in mid-October, where he played 45 minutes.

Photo by Tom Purslow/Manchester United via Getty Images

United’s number four hasn’t played for the first team since January 2020 and with Raphael Varane nearing a return to first team action, Jones’ prospects of featuring are dwindling.

After getting drawn against Aston Villa in the FA Cup, Rangnick is unlikely to ring the changes and throw Jones back into action, in such an important game.

Getting valuable game time for the under-23s makes sense for Jones, but it will be interesting to see when and how his next appearance arises, following Friday’s clash.

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Passionate Football fan that completed a NCTJ-accredited Diploma in Multimedia Sports Journalism in 2016.