Manchester United star Phil Jones has revealed his anxiety that he would miss the World Cup this summer through injury, having been forced off during his club’s last game of the Premier League season last term.
The England defender was sent to hospital for scans following a collision with Hull City’s Maynor Figueroa last month, and initially it was believed that the incident would cost him his chances of going to Brazil. As relayed by the official Manchester United website today, Jones confirmed that those worries were shared by him, and that at one point he believed he would have to wait another four years to get his shot at playing in a World Cup.
“Once I did it, I thought I might not have a chance, but thankfully it healed quickly and I'm feeling fit, ready and I'm so looking forward to it,” the former Blackburn ace said.
“The World Cup was the first thing that came into my mind when I did it. I remember getting the scan, thinking 'it might knock my chance'. Thankfully, it's healed nicely and I'm able to be a part of what's going to hopefully be a successful tournament.”
The 22-year-old made his first competitive appearance since the injury during England’s friendly against Ecuador, and then managed more game-time in the 0-0 draw with Honduras. His speedy recovery has allayed fears that the Three Lions could be caught short at the back if other players encounter injury problems in the coming weeks, and his versatility offers Roy Hodgson plenty of options he would have otherwise been without.
Though it’s unlikely Jones will be a first-choice starter in Brazil, he could well prove instrumental when weariness takes its toll. Capable of playing comfortably at right-back, in central defence or central midfield, he has showcased at United that he can be relied upon on the biggest stages, and is an astute defender when called upon. It’s assumed that Gary Cahill and Phil Jagielka will shoulder the responsibility of being England’s centre-back pairing, providing neither of them suffers any sort of complaint before Saturday, whilst Glen Johnson is the pundits choice to reign supreme in the right-back slot, at least for the first game against Italy anyway.
As such Jones will likely find himself having to impact games from the bench, and could be used when Hodgson is looking to close games out in their latter stages. Probably the safest option in terms of ensuring that his back line is as experienced as it can be at the highest level, this will alleviate concern from the stands that the England boss has picked a squad which doesn’t have enough pedigree at major international tournaments.
Of course Jones may find himself thrust into action if any of Jagielka, Cahill or Johnson becomes unavailable to play. Whilst Chris Smalling will compete for a place also, it’s considered by most that the younger of the two United men is higher in the pecking order.