Manchester United defender Jones eyes Europa League chance

By Sports Desk September 18, 2019

Manchester United defender Phil Jones views the Europa League as an opportunity to work his way into Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's first-team plans.

The centre-back has not managed a single minute this season, with manager Solskjaer preferring Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof in front of David de Gea.

Jones made it to the bench for the narrow Premier League victory over Leicester City and could come into selection contention when United begin their European campaign against Astana at Old Trafford on Thursday.

It is the first of three matches in the space of a week for the Red Devils.

"There are players like myself who've not been involved as much, but it's a chance for everyone to get games," Jones told United's official match programme.

"It's a busy period when all the games come thick and fast, when you need a big squad with everyone ready to fight. But it's a period we relish."

Eric Bailly's knee injury and Chris Smalling's loan move to Roma weakened United's centre-back stocks but Jones, a member of England's 2018 World Cup squad, understands it will be difficult to dislodge Solskjaer's regular starters.

"Since I came to this club – when I walked through the door – I knew I wasn't just going to walk into the team and expect to play," the 27-year-old added.

"Today's no different. Of course I want to play, but we've got some quality players in that position. I'll wait for my chance and hopefully I'll get a chance sooner rather than later."

United's other Europa League opponents in Group L are Serbian side Partizan and Dutch outfit AZ.

Related items

  • FIFA 20: Aguero & Ibrahimovic included in first Ultimate Scream pack FIFA 20: Aguero & Ibrahimovic included in first Ultimate Scream pack

    Sergio Aguero and Zlatan Ibrahimovic have been included in FIFA 20's first Ultimate Scream pack ahead of Halloween.

    EA Sports announced the release of the FIFA Ultimate Team cards on Friday, with Manchester City striker Aguero and LA Galaxy star Ibrahimovic among the standout names.

    Top-rated Aguero is joined in the first batch by fellow Premier League players Dele Alli, Nicolas Otamendi and Bernard, with a second group of players to be released next Friday.

    Below, we have the list of FUT cards that are up for grabs.

    FUT Ultimate Scream pack

    LM: Bernard (Everton) - 84

    CB: Nicolas Otamendi (Manchester City) - 85

    LM: Raphael Guerreiro (Borussia Dortmund) - 85

    CAM: Marcel Sabitzer (RB Leipzig) - 85

    CB: Alessio Romagnoli (AC Milan) - 86

    CDM: William Carvalho (Real Betis) - 86

    CAM: Dele Alli (Tottenham) - 87

    CAM: James Rodriguez (Real Madrid) - 88

    CAM: Thomas Muller (Bayern Munich) - 88

    ST: Zlatan Ibrahimovic (LA Galaxy) - 88

    ST: Sergio Aguero (Manchester City) - 91

  • Guardiola to send Man City players 'to the fridge' in bid to stay fresh during busy December Guardiola to send Man City players 'to the fridge' in bid to stay fresh during busy December

    Pep Guardiola has a plan to make sure his Manchester City players cope with playing twice in less than 48 hours in December: "Go home, open the fridge and get inside."

    The reigning champions have been dealt a tricky hand over the festive period following fixture changes for live television coverage, with their trip to Wolves now starting at 19:45 local time on December 27.

    They then welcome Sheffield United to the Etihad Stadium on December 29, that game kicking off at 18:00, before a home match against Everton on January 1, 2020.

    Asked what he can do to combat such a quick turnaround between travelling to Molineux and hosting the Blades before the turn of the year, Guardiola replied: "Players to the fridge. I'm not joking.

    "Go home, open the fridge and get inside for 48 hours. See you at the Etihad Stadium [on December 29].

    "When I open the fridge to make an omelette, maybe I can talk with my players. But apart from that, no way.

    "It happened in my first season here. I think we played on December 31 at Anfield and then at home against Burnley [on January 2]."

    Before needing to be concerned about Christmas plans, however, Guardiola and his squad must focus on closing the gap to a red-hot Liverpool side in the coming weeks.

    After missing out by a solitary point in a thrilling title race in 2018-19, Jurgen Klopp's Reds have started the new Premier League season with eight successive wins.

    City, in contrast, have suffered defeats to Norwich City and Wolves to sit eight points off the pace in second. However, Guardiola understands there is still a long way to go, particularly with Aymeric Laporte set to bolster the squad with a return from a knee injury early in 2020.

    "For 11 years, no team in England has won back-to-back [titles]. It is difficult, of course it is," the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss told the media ahead of the trip to Crystal Palace on Saturday.

    "But you have a rival that is unstoppable right now. Eight games, eight wins. We lost games, but in Spain the big clubs lost games, in Italy the big clubs lost games, here we are facing one team who are champions of Europe and didn't lose one game.

    "It's difficult. In some games we could win but we didn't win. Our mistakes punished us a lot. During the season there are ups and downs. We try to get better and improve.

    "From tomorrow [Saturday] and in the Champions League, we try to make an incredible step forward, to win the game against Atalanta [on Tuesday], then in February Laporte will be back, most of the players will be back.

    "We will see what happens in the later stages. Normally, when you win what we have won the last two seasons and you arrive in March and April being there, after that it's more difficult to drop points. But, in the earliest stages of the season, sometimes it's normal."

  • Cardiff City 1-1 Sheffield Wednesday: Tomlin on target to deny high-flying Owls Cardiff City 1-1 Sheffield Wednesday: Tomlin on target to deny high-flying Owls

    Lee Tomlin's fine free-kick in the closing minutes grabbed Cardiff City a 1-1 draw against Sheffield Wednesday on Friday.

    The high-flying Owls appeared on course to secure a first win at the home of their opponents since April 2007 when they led at the break thanks to Julian Borner's first goal for the club.

    The defender cleverly deflected home an on-target shot from Kadeem Harris, who also hit the crossbar as the visitors dominated in the opening half.

    However, in a game played out in heavy rain, Neil Warnock's side were far brighter after the interval, substitute Tomlin eventually equalising when he curled home a set-piece opportunity.

    Wednesday missed out on a win that would have seen them move level on points with West Brom and Nottingham Forest at the top of the Championship, though they needed a smart stoppage-time save from goalkeeper Cameron Dawson to hold on for a point on their travels.

© 2018 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.