Manchester United defender Phil Jones could still leave Old Trafford before next week’s transfer deadline following interest from Championship club Fulham.
Jones hasn’t played a competitive game for United for 19 months, largely because of long-term knee trouble, and faces an impossible task of establishing himself back in the team.
The 29-year-old, once billed as a future England captain, has only twice played more than 26 games in all competitions in a single season since joining United a decade ago and not at all since 2014.
Jones did play part of United’s recent closed warm-up game against Burnley and has been tipped for a role as the squad’s fifth centre-back this season. However, that is unlikely to yield much playing time and despite regaining fitness he still didn’t even make the bench at the weekend.
90min understands that Fulham are among a handful of Championship teams showing interest in Jones. The most likely scenario would be a loan, with United still paying the majority of his wages, but it could give him the kind of regular playing time he needs to resurrect his stalled career.
This week, ex-United defender Rio Ferdinand, a former teammate or three seasons between 2011 and 2014, has given a very honest assessment of the situation, telling Jones to find a new club.
“He's taking up a youth team player's position in that squad right now,” Ferdinand said in a video on his own YouTube channel.
“He's had too many injuries. I was in the same team as Phil Jones, he came from Blackburn as a young kid, everyone was saying he was going to be this great player. Huge potential but injuries have absolutely annihilated his career and then confidence issues at certain times as well.
“He's never been able to fully establish himself in the team. Whether it's injuries, lack of form, lack of confidence. I think he should've gone ages ago. He should've gone before Chris Smalling went. Find a new club and play some football.”