Phil Jones has travelled with the Manchester United squad for the Champions League clash against Villarreal, but the defender is not eligible to play.
Similar to Lee Grant, the centre back isn’t named in United’s official Champions League squad, so therefore he cannot play against the Yellow Submarine.
But caretaker manager Michael Carrick may be integrating Jones back into the squad ahead of Sunday’s clash against the Premier League leaders Chelsea.
Jones likely to be part of Chelsea squad
With Harry Maguire suspended and Raphael Varane out injured for the game against Thomas Tuchel’s side, Carrick only has Victor Lindelof and Eric Bailly available from the club’s top four centre backs.
Although the Ivorian will be hoping to feature against his former club back at the El Madrigal, Carrick may save Bailly for Sunday and opt to go with Maguire and Lindelof against Unai Emery’s side.
Despite Maguire’s wretched club form, an injury to Bailly or Lindelof back in Spain would enhance the possibility of Jones being thrown back into Premier League action.
Although Lindelof has struggled with issues with his back, he is less likely to get injured than Bailly.
Jones hasn’t made a first team appearance since scoring in an FA Cup tie against Tranmere Rovers back in January 2020.
The 29-year-old has made three Premier League 2 appearances for the club’s under-23 side this season, the last of which came last month.
His last Premier League appearance came at Old Trafford when Manchester United were beaten 2-0 by Burnley a month earlier.
Jones and his defensive partner that day Maguire couldn’t contain Chris Wood and Jay Rodriguez, who scored a goal each for Sean Dyche’s side.
Asking Jones to come into a confidence-drained Manchester United side and make his first Premier League appearance for nearly two years is a huge ask.
Potentially doing it against Romelu Lukaku, who will be eager to shine on his first appearance against United, is a completely different daunting proposition.
Jones is likely to be on the bench at the Theatre of Dreams on Sunday, but an injury to either Bailly or Lindelof against the reigning Europa League champions this evening could see him thrown back into the starting line-up.
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