Mike Phelan has signalled out Phil Jones for special praise as the Manchester United defender continues his recovery process.
Jones has not featured for United in a competitive fixture since January 2020 when he netted against Tranmere Rovers in the FA Cup fourth round.
The 29-year-old has since missed over 19 months of football due to a serious knee injury.
And despite the long time away from the pitch, United’s assistant coach has praised the defender for his diligent work in the gym.
Speaking to Sensible Soccer, Phelan was asked about which United players spends the most time in the gym. His answer was unequivocal.
“For us right now, credit to him as well, Phil Jones has been in that recovery area quite a lot,” Phelan said.
“So he’s worked extremely hard and it’s mind-blowing at times because you are doing it on your own so credit to him. Phil Jones, for me, has been terrific in the gym.
Jones featured in a behind closed doors friendly against Burnley earlier this week in which United came out victorious snatching a 2-0 win.
The 29-year-old has struggled for fitness throughout his career at Old Trafford but the latest 19 month lay-off was definitely the longest.
Previously Jones had been linked with a move away from Old Trafford, but having only just returned from injury, there are unlikely to be many suitors particularly given the length off time Jones has had away from the pitch.
Speaking to United’s official website, Solskjaer was pleased by Jones’ progress in pre-season.
“I’m impressed by his resilience in training,” Solskjaer said.
“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.”
Where the defender’s future lies, only time will tell.
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