Phil Jones made his first Manchester United appearance in a little under two years against Wolves on Monday night.
He performed as well as anyone on the night, despite another disappointing team display and result.
The next step for Jones is to maintain his fitness and he will hope that can earn him more opportunities in Ralf Rangnick’s starting XI.
The FA Cup clash with Aston Villa looks like a perfect opportunity for him to remain in the side.
But TalkSport’s Andy Goldstein has made a far bigger claim about Jones’ prospects between now and the end of 2022.
United supporter Goldstein has tipped Jones to get into Gareth Southgate’s England squad for the Qatar World Cup.
“I’ll make a statement, Phil Jones is going to go to the World Cup for England,” he said. “We’re not blessed with centre-halves.
“There are a couple of central defenders in that England squad I think Phil Jones is better than on his day. He’s better than [Tyrone] Mings. I’d rather have Jones than Coady in a two.”
When asked if Jones is better than Manchester City’s John Stones, he replied: “Ooh – in his pomp. I always worry with John Stones that he’s going to do a Cruyff turn. Phil Jones is going to go to the World Cup.”
It is easily forgotten that Jones was part of the England squad for World Cup 2018, as Southgate’s men made the semi-finals.
But this feels like getting ahead of ourselves slightly.
Jones did exceptionally well on Monday given the circumstances. But he needs to prove his fitness first of all and then prove once again that he can perform consistently at a high level.
That is what all of his England rivals have been doing over the last two years, while Jones has had to show immense mental fortitude to fight back from injury.
Jones may well be playing for a move, either this month or in the summer. It is not yet clear which club he will be playing for by the time the World Cup rolls around.
Monday night was a wonderful occasion for him and a genuine piece of good news at a time when United need it sorely.
But talk of him getting back into the international setup and then getting onto the plane for Qatar is premature at this stage. What a story it would be, but Jones is a way off yet.
Qatar World Cup 2022 Key Dates
- Premier League break
Club football will pause after the weekend of November 12-13. As many as 16 league games will have been played, with the season kicking off on August 6.
- Opening game
The opening game of the 2022 World Cup will take place on Monday November 21.
- The final
The 2022 World Cup final will be played on Sunday December 18.
- Premier League resumes
The Premier League resumes on Boxing Day, December 26th, with the season finishing on May 28.
- Ralf Rangnick confirms 2 more Manchester United players who will start v West Ham today
- Is Manchester United vs West Ham on TV? Kick off time, team news and prediction
- 4-3-3: Predicted Manchester United XI v West Ham, Greenwood at 9
- Rangnick says he is happy with Manchester United star but calls on him to improve defensively
- Manchester United talent scores twice on under-23 return after loan recall