Manchester United BOOST! Key defender nearing first-team return

first_imgManchester United have been handed a boost with news defender Phil Jones is close to a first-team return after featuring for the club’s Under-21s side on Monday.Jones, out since mid-April with an ankle injury, has been sorely missed by manager Louis van Gaal in recent weeks, with the Red Devils losing all three of their matches in his absence at the back.But the 23-year-old is now pushing for a starting place again after playing 62 minutes as the United youngsters beat Southampton 1-0 at Leigh Sports Village.Jones was an unused substitute in Saturday’s Premier League defeat to West Brom but was short of fitness after three weeks out.The former Blackburn man was recently rated the best young centre-back in Europe, with better stats than Atletico Madrid’s Jose Gimenez and Real Madrid’s Raphael Varane, in a survey by Swiss statistical analysts CIES Football Observatory.And he now hopes to have put himself back in the frame to return to the side at Crystal Palace this weekend.Jones told MUTV: “I’m happy to play in the Under-21s and get some fitness. I feel I’m ready to go again and hopefully I can make the squad on Saturday.”The loss to West Brom means United still have work to do to secure a Champions League qualification spot, with fifth-placed Liverpool closing back to within four points.Jones said: “We have got a long way to go as there are still three games coming up – three massive games – and we have got to approach it in the right way. I’m sure we can do that and cement that top-four finish.” Manchester United defender Phil Jones 1last_img