Man Utd outcast Phil Jones makes feelings clear on quitting

Man Utd v Newcastle: Carabao Cup final pictures

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Phil Jones claims that he has not given up on playing professional football despite being frozen out at Manchester United for a number of years. The former England defender took on a surprise punditry role for Sunday’s Carabao Cup final between the Red Devils and Newcastle, prompting speculation that he may be planning to hang up his boots for good. 

Jones was snapped up by iconic ex-United boss Sir Alex Ferguson after breaking through as a teenager with Blackburn Rovers. The Preston-born centre-back was a regular fixture during his first eight seasons at Old Trafford, but things have tailed off dramatically since.

A series of crippling knee issues have limited Jones to just six Premier League appearances in the past four seasons. He is yet to feature for United in any competitive match this campaign and United’s growing haul of established defensive stars means he would be well down the pecking order regardless. 

Raphael Varane and Lisandro Martinez started as the centre-back pairing against Newcastle on Sunday, in a game United won 2-0 to claim their first major silverware since 2017. 

Jones appeared in the Sky Sports studio to cover the match as a pundit, watching on as his team-mates celebrated the triumph. Despite a devastating lack of football in recent years, the 31-year-old asserted that he is not ready to give up just yet. 

“It’s been a long road, there’s no hiding from that – at times physically and mentally,” Jones told Sky Sports. “I’m a strong character and I love playing football. I’m doing everything I can to get back on the pitch.

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“When you’ve had all the issues and injury wise, you know, it’s hard to deal with that. The club have been absolutely fantastic with me. I think I’ve had good support around me from family and friends. I’m grateful for that and I want to be back outside.”

Jones banked 27 England caps earlier in his career and was a strong enough performer at the time to earn a four-year contract with the Red Devils, which he signed in 2019. 

That deal is poised to expire at the end of the season with little chance of a renewal, and it remains to be seen whether manager Erik ten Hag will give him the opportunity to bid farewell to United’s fans. 

Jones will be at liberty to leave on a free transfer in the summer but a chequered injury history would make him a serious gamble. The defender last played for the Red Devils in a 3-0 win over Brentford in May last year. 

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