Man Utd fear Phil Jones could miss most of their run-in
Manchester United fear Phil Jones could miss most of the season’s run-in with a suspected broken toe caused by a tackle from club-mate Chris Smalling on Tuesday.
Jose Mourinho is anxiously awaiting news on his key defender after Jones limped out of training ahead of England’s clash with Germany on Wednesday night.
Jones was photographed grimacing during the training session at St George’s Park following a lunge from Smalling.
The 25-year-old will certainly miss the friendly in Dortmund, which is Gareth Southgate’s first game in charge since landing the manager’s job permanently.
And Jones will hope his toe injury is not serious, particularly as United face nine matches in April.
Southgate said: ‘It was just a tackle, a nothing sort of thing really. It’s very unfortunate for him and a huge disappointment because he has been playing very well and has had some injury difficulties in the past. Hopefully it is not too serious, but it needs to be checked out.’
Meanwhile, Southgate is ready to unleash Jones’s Old Trafford team-mate Marcus Rashford in Dortmund.
The 19-year-old striker is set to win his seventh international cap and could start against Joachim Low’s side, who will be captained by Lukas Podolski on his 130th and final appearance. And the England boss insists Rashford, who is set to start along with Sunderland’s Jermain Defoe, will not be fazed.
Southgate said: ‘I liked Rashford’s mentality when we had him with the Under 21s. He was very mature, very humble. He wants to learn, to improve, has a good view on the game and for a young player I think he has intelligent input when you ask him tactical things.
‘He is not afraid to voice that, even among older players. He’s probably at the stage where he is young enough that he’s not thinking about it (how big the occasion is).
‘He’s just enjoying his football and he is playing in a good club side with outstanding players. He’s not the finished article, obviously. There is still plenty for him to learn but he’s an exciting talent.’
Southgate intimated that he could try playing three centre backs against the Germans at some stage.
‘We’ve got to be open minded to anything,’ he said. ‘The best teams I played in with England had tactical flexibility.’
And he urged his players and staff to strive for perfection if they want to emulate Germany.
‘Being the best in the world has to be the ultimate aim because then that drives your behaviour,’ he said. ‘Whatever you’re doing, whether you’re analysing the opposition, whether it’s nutrition, recovery — we have to challenge each other to deliver the very best. And to have a world-class team, we’re going to need a world-class support system.’
Raheem Sterling will be rested tonight but is expected to face Lithuania on Sunday.
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