Ole Gunnar Solskjaer defends ‘proper professional’ Phil Jones after criticism

Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has hit back at former team-mate Rio Ferdinand’s criticism of defender Phil Jones.

The 29-year-old is currently working his way back from a knee injury and has not played a competitive game for the club since January last year, prompting Ferdinand to accuse him of taking up the place of an Academy player.

However, Solskjaer has launched an impassioned defence of the player having himself been through a similar situation.

Speaking at his pre-match press conference on Friday afternoon, the United boss said: “I know more than anyone what it feels like to be injured at that stage.

“Since I came here, he’s battled against this knee injury and he put his body on the line every single training session, every single game.

“There are a few times we have had to manage him, and he’s never done anything but give everything for the club. Rio, of all, he should know more than to go out and say this.”

Jones, whose last appearance came in a 6-0 FA Cup fourth round victory at Tranmere in which he scored on January 26, 2020, is gradually edging back towards full fitness and played in a behind-closed-doors match against Burnley last week.

However, given what he has been through, Solskjaer is in no mood to rush him back.

He said: “I’ve not said too much about Phil’s injury because I have more or less protected him. Phil’s never on social media, never asked to do interviews, he just gets his head down, proper, proper professional, no fuss, family man and just wants to get back fit.

“We managed to get him half an hour against Burnley which was the first half an hour against an opponent, he’s played here in training. He’s working his way.

“I was out for two years in a three-year period with a knee injury and Phil has battled valiantly, I’d say. I know how Phil has felt because you’re embarrassed sometimes coming in.

“But he has to look after his career and he’s now getting back to fitness. Now is not the time for me to throw him in because I think if we give him a little bit more, maybe a month, six weeks behind closed doors, he’ll be there.

“For me as a manager to see that he can see the light at the end of the tunnel, it’s great because I’ve been through the same.”