Phil Jones has turned in some impressive performances for Manchester United of late, becoming a key figure for Sir Alex Ferguson’s side.

At the Santiago Bernabeu last week, where he was tasked with keeping Cristiano Ronaldo quiet, Jones excelled and drew plaudits from far and wide for his performance.

Jones, who turned 21 on Wednesday, was expected to perform the same role in the return leg at Old Trafford, but is now a serious doubt for that game according to Sir Alex Ferguson, following an ankle injury suffered in the FA Cup fifth round tie with Reading.

United legend Bryan Robson has warned the Preston-born youngster to choose his battles more carefully in the future or risk an injury hit career.

Speaking to the Manchester Evening News, Robson said: "Phil is a bit reckless and does dive into tackles he isn’t favourite to win.

"There is nothing wrong with that but when you are not definite to win a challenge you have to accept that sometimes you don’t go in the whole hog or at least you protect yourself.

"His challenge against Reading was a poor one. He risked an injury because of the way he went in for that tackle. Technically, he got it wrong.

"Recklessness and over enthusiasm is understandable when you are young. You want to impress and throw yourself into things a more experienced player wouldn’t or would at least go into in a better position.

"It can be a hard lesson to learn at times but it is all part of the education. Phil is young and I am sure he will pick up on this. He’s an intelligent lad. The fact he’s capable of playing in so many different positions shows what an intelligent footballer he is. He’s a good learner."

Robson is speaking from experience, having struggled with injuries during his Old Trafford career - something United's former captain marvel is keen for Jones to avoid.

"A lot of the injuries I suffered when I finally moved to Old Trafford were muscle problems," said Robson. "That was all a throwback from those broken legs (Robson broke his leg three times between the age of 19 and 21). 

"Because of those there was an in-balance in my body and when you are compensating you suffer more muscle trouble.

"I don’t want Phil to suffer in the same way and go through his career prone to the same kind of thing because of something he did when he was a kid.

"He will pick up on the recklessness and that tackling and he’ll be a better player for it in two or three years time."

Sir Alex Ferguson has defended Jones however, citing the similarities to Robson and is reluctant to take the edge out of the defenders game.

"He tackled awkwardly," said Ferguson. "But you can't measure a person by a tackle.

"He has the courage and willingness to tackle. Bryan Robson was exactly the same. Bryan couldn't see danger and neither can Phil.

"That is a lot to do with the courage they have. You are not going to take that out of them. I wouldn't even attempt that."

Jones is certainly no exception, having already suffered injury problems during his short career, and his approach will no doubt change with maturity and experience.


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