Manchester United now have plenty of options in defence after the summer transfer window. The arrival of Raphael Varane has strengthened the backline for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and has opened up more options. Another option has supposedly opened up for Ole as he has decided to include Phil Jones into his plans.
The new season has brought in more rays of hope for the player as Jones returned to the field after 19 months during the friendly fixture against Burnley. He made a 30-minute comeback during the behind-closed-doors friendly game that United won with a 3-1 scoreline.
The defender last featured for the Red Devils in a FA Cup tie against Tranmere in January 2020. He underwent knee surgery the following June and has been out of action the whole of last season struggling with injuries. Phil Jones still has two more years in his current contract at Old Trafford.
He made a good start under Ole, starting the Norwegian’s first seven games at Old Trafford, but was unable to impress the boss and the arrival of Harry Maguire sent him down the pecking order. Varane’s signing further diminishes his chances, but the manager has told him that he remains part of his first-team plans this season.
Solskjaer plans to rely on five centre-backs this season – Harry Maguire, Raphael Varane, Victor Lindelof, Eric Bailly and Phil Jones, although the latter will most certainly be the fifth-choice. The manager recently praised the defender’s attitude during his 19-months spell on the sidelines. Ole said:
“I’m impressed by his resilience in training. We have to manage the workload early on.”
“I’ve been part of that myself after being out for the best part of a year and a little bit more than that. He’s been so determined and worked so hard.”
“Now is not the time to rush things, now is the time to really do the last bit perfectly. As I said, Reserve games, Under-23s, maybe behind closed doors.”
“He’s already had in-house games against the 23s so it’s looking good.”
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Phil Jones is hoping to resurrect his career at Old Trafford this season and impress the manager. Meanwhile, academy graduate Axel Tuanzebe’s loan to Aston Villa will also help Phil Jones in forwarding his cause. However, it is clear that Solskjaer will prefer the Harry Maguire-Raphael Varane pair for the Premier League and Champions League fixtures.
After a lavish transfer window, the Red Devils started the season in style, beating Leeds United 5-1 at home, but were halted to a 1-1 draw at Southampton last Sunday. United have a good squad depth to challenge for the Premier League this season and have also plugged in the holes by adding Sancho and Varane. However, transfer activities are still ongoing as they plan to make at least one addition to the midfield department.
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