Manchester United new boy Phil Jones enjoyed a baptism of Chicago Fire on his Red Devils debut on Saturday - at least in terms of temperature!
With large parts of North America affected by a heatwave, Sir Alex Ferguson's players had to endure sweltering conditions in their latest pre-season friendly victory over Chicago Fire, where they ran out 3-1 winners.
Speaking on the club's US tour, Jones, paired alongside England U21 teammate Chris Smalling at the heart of the United defence, reflected positively on his first outing.
"It was tough, very tough to play in heat like that, I struggled to breathe at times," he admitted. "But I still enjoyed it, being out there with the lads. It was nice to put the shirt on for the first time and as I've said previously, I feel at home now.
"I'm pleased we won. It just shows what the lads are about and what they're capable of to come back [from 0-1 down] in such a tough game.
"They [Chicago Fire] were a good team, they popped it around well. So credit to our lads, including all those who came on."
The 19-year-old defender was replaced by Nemanja Vidic in the 75th minute, as Sir Alex refrained from deploying any outfield player for the entire 90 minutes due to the heat.
The squad rotation is proof of United's strength in depth, and in particular Ferguson's wealth of defensive options having strengthened well over the summer.
His first-choice pairing of the aforementioned Vidic and particularly Rio Ferdinand - who will be looking to put his injury problems behind him in order to see off competition for a place in the starting line-up, will surely now be looking over their shoulders.
"Rio will have to stay fit, that is the key for him," Ferguson told the Sunday Mirror. "As he gets older, he won't play all the games because we have Chris Smalling, Jonny Evans and Phil [Jones], who are the best young centre backs in the country. Any one of them can come in."
Fergie's confidence in his new charges is echoed by the players themselves, who have a collective belief that the future at United remains bright, and Jones for one is planning to take his game to the next level.
"I'm training and playing with top class players day in and day out," he continued. "I know there's competition for places. It's up for grabs in every position and it's only healthy for the squad. I've got to keep training hard, working my way up. Eventually, I'll get my chance and I'll take it."
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