Phil Jones is in line to make his first Manchester United appearance in 20 months when they host West Ham in the Carabao Cup on Wednesday.
Jones was last seen in the United first-team’s anger in January 2020 in an FA Cup tie against Tranmere Scouts, during which Jones scored the fourth goal of sixth and secured a comfortable victory.
The defender, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side in the fourth round, decided to undergo surgery to treat a knee problem that had plagued him for many years.
The 29-year old has been out of the first team for a long time, but it could soon be over at Old Trafford.
Jones has been building his fitness, featuring in some behind closed doors matches and for the U23s, and Solskjaer has praised the centre-half for his professional during his near two-year ordeal.
“I’m so happy for Phil,” Solskjaer told Manchester United’s official website.
“He has completed two 90 minutes for the Under-23s, played some minutes behind closed doors and he’s got no reaction on his knee. He’s been working really hard.”
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The Red Devils boss knows exactly what it’s like to be sidelined with a knee injury, having suffered from similar complaints during his own playing days.
“I’ve been part of that myself and had the best part of three years, or at least more than two out of three years, and I know what challenges he’s been through, mentally, thinking: ‘Will I ever play football again or even be able to walk again and be able to play with the kids in the garden.’
“He’s been so diligent and so professional; no frills, no social media and I’m old school. That’s what I love about players like this. He just focuses on one thing and gets his head around the challenges and he’s back.
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“He will be in the squad. It’s a good day for him and for us, and it’s something that he has earned.”
Jones was named in the squad for Wednesday’s Carabao Cup third-round tie against West Ham.
Jones is among many changes that are expected. Alex Telles and Jesse Lingard have also been earmarked to Old Trafford.