Jones: I see the light at the end of the tunnel

Saturday 18 September 2021 15:00

Manchester United defender Phil Jones is both delighted and relieved to be back on the training pitch with his Reds team-mates.

Our no.4 is continuing to work his way out of a difficult period on the sidelines with injuries, the most serious of which has been a long-term knee problem. 

Jones made the decision to fix the issue with an operation last summer and is now nearing a full recovery.

As a result, he has recently been able to return to first-team sessions at Carrington, having worked valiantly behind the scenes to restore his fitness levels.
Jones opens up about his fight against injury Video

Jones opens up about his fight against injury

Phil Jones talks about his lengthy lay-off during his UTD Podcast appearance...

Phil recently sat down with UTD Podcast co-hosts Helen Evans and Sam Homewood to discuss the injury process, his determination to overcome the challenges it brought and how he is feeling now as he continues to work towards an official return.

“I’m feeling good at the minute,” he said during a forthcoming episode of the official club podcast. 

“Obviously, I’ve been through hell and back over the last couple of years. I struggled with my knee a little bit and [there] came a point after lockdown where I thought enough was enough. 

“I kept myself in great shape over lockdown and came back. But I remember just training out here [Carrington] and going into the doc and saying ‘enough’s enough’. Unfortunately, there was going to be time off the pitch, which I knew was going to be difficult for me, but it was something that I had to do.

“Thankfully, I see the light at the end of the tunnel now, and I’ve been back training, played a few behind-closed-doors games and I’m feeling really good at the minute. It’s so good to be back out training with the lads and enjoying being a footballer again because for the last 15 months, it’s been all ‘daddy daycare’ and not much football.”
Twenty months on from his last competitive appearance for United, Jones has been able to build up some minutes in a matchday environment recently, featuring in those friendlies he referred to - against Burnley and Stoke City - before playing his first 90 minutes since the operation in the Under-23s' trip to Arsenal last weekend. He clocked up another full game today (Saturday) as the Reds beat Brighton 2-1 in Premier League 2 at Leigh Sports Village.

Those appearances are essentially a reward for the work the former England international has put in along the way, but he says that the process has been far from easy.

“[It’s been] tough. I think as a footballer, as a person, as a human being, that’s the lowest I probably ever felt in my life,” he said. 

“You try and get a balance between football and family life but it was so difficult going home and trying to look after the kids. You’re there, but you’re not there, you’re not present. It’s nice to get that balance back.

“I think at first, I’ll be brutally honest, I found it really tough to watch football, just in general because you can’t do anything about it. You’re stuck, you’re off your feet. Coming into the training ground every day, it’s hard to get going because you’re going to be out for so long and I knew that getting the operation. 

“But thankfully, I have a good team around me, family, friends, and I got through it.”
Phil's first competitive outing since January 2020 came for the Under-23s, away to Arsenal.
Now that he is back, our no.4 has been keen to get into a routine on training days that makes him one of the first to be at Carrington every day, in order to allow himself the time to prepare for the day’s sessions as well as possible. 

He is delighted to have returned and is thankful for the support from everyone around the club,  including Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who took the time to praise the defender’s overall attitude and application despite his setback, in a recent press conference.

“That was really nice [to hear],” Jones said, during his appearance in the UTD Podcast guest seat.

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Read the latest from the boss ahead of Sunday's trip to east London.

“I spoke to him afterwards and said thank you for the words because it meant a lot, it really did.”

Jones continued: “There’s nothing [that means] more [as] a footballer, than for someone, managers, staff, coaches, players, to have your back. 

“To feel really supported by him was a nice feeling. At the time, I needed that and it was nice.”

Be sure to look out for the full Phil Jones episode of UTD Podcast, which will drop first in our Official App.