Phil Jones couldn't have dreamed he'd play such a key role in his first campaign with Manchester United, but is delighted with the progress he has made at Old Trafford this year.
The 20-year-old has made the third most first-team appearances for Sir Alex Ferguson's side this season, behind only Patrice Evra and Wayne Rooney.
United may now be second favourites to claim the 2011-12 Premier League crown this term, but regardless of the eventual outcome of the title race, on a personal level, the season has been a huge success.
"It's gone really well," Jones told United's official website. "If anyone had told me at the start of the season I would have made 40 appearances for Manchester United I would have snapped their hands off. It's incredible. I didn't expect it this season."
His fast-track development has also earned Jones international recognition with the senior England side, and he is now expected to be included in the 23-man Three Lions squad to travel to Poland and Ukraine for Euro 2012 this summer.
Less than 12 months ago, the defender was plying his trade at Ewood Park with Blackburn Rovers. But, after undergoing such a meteoric rise, Jones is now relishing the challenge of testing himself at the very top.
"It was relatively easy to adjust because at Blackburn I always saw myself as a player who likes to get the ball down and play," he explained. "That is what United love to do, get the ball down and play. The players have also helped me and made me feel so welcome.
"There is definitely an element of personal intimidation. You always raise the question to yourself. You wonder: 'Am I good enough to be here?' But the manager has shown faith in me.
"Perhaps I picked up a few injuries at the wrong time in the back end of the season. I couldn't really get my match fitness back. I was in and out of the team. But now I feel good, fit and fresh. Hopefully I can finish the season strongly."
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