Phil Jones must have thought his chances of playing for Manchester United were all but over. Despite returning from serious injury, the centre-back had four defenders ahead of him in the pecking order.

But blows for United’s first-choice pairing could see Jones return to the spotlight.

Harry Maguire was side-lined prior to the international break and is a doubt for the weekend. Now Raphael Varane has been ruled out for a few weeks.

Victor Lindelof and Eric Bailly are likely to start but the latter’s fragility remains a concern. That means Jones should start on the bench and, with games coming thick and fast, the former England international should get a surprise start this month.

That looks a world away for much of the last two years. And, whatever you think of him as a defender, it is testament to Jones’ determination to return.

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(Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)

Sir Alex Ferguson once tipped Jones to be a United superstar. We all know what happened next, but he has still done a job when called upon.

The 29-year-old is more than just a perfect subject for memes. At his best, he is a blood-and-thunder centre-back who gives his all. And one wonders if United fans might see that a few more times this season.

 

Had Varane and Maguire been fit, Jones would have remained in the shadows. United fans would have preferred that, with their first-choice pairing developing a decent understanding.

Instead, fate has intervened. For once since his move to United, it may be on Jones’ side.

Audition or proof of quality

It will be interesting to see what the next few months have in store for Jones.

He could become an integral part of the squad with matches coming thick and fast. Or he could get a few games to prove his fitness before heading to pastures new.

Either way, United fans will be hoping this is a new dawn for the player.

The next few weeks could see him build on his 224 United appearances and, after so long away, that is the most he can hope for…at least for now.

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