sport

Jones accepts injury frustration

Phil Jones accepts he cannot help being injured when he was really needed by Manchester United - and now being fit when everyone else is.

It wasn't until last week's Premier League encounter with QPR that Sir Alex Ferguson had more than four defenders to choose from.

Michael Carrick and Antonio Valencia have been forced to fill in at times, so stretched have the Red Devils' resources been.

Yet, with Chris Smalling now back from a broken metatarsal and skipper Nemanja Vidic in line to face Cluj in the Champions League on Wednesday, Jones is not guaranteed any involvement despite being available again after summer knee surgery.

"That's football," he said.

"It's swings and roundabouts with injuries. It's amazing how quickly you can be up there one minute and then down there. Everyone knows that.

"I've just got to knuckle down, train well and when I get the chance perform well."

Jones is ready for the challenge though.

"I feel fit and strong," he said.

"Obviously I haven't played a lot of minutes yet. But I felt good in the game I have had, and it was quite a difficult one to come back into.

"It is going to take a while to get my match fitness back but hopefully I can pick up some more minutes as the season progresses."

Jones will hope to be involved at the Madejski Stadium on Saturday when United aim to consolidate their place at the top of the Premier League by beating relegation-threatened Reading.

The Royals have struggled badly this term, managing just one win from their 14 games and are currently four points from safety.

Yet Jones knows there is no point United expecting an easy game.

Having already been beaten at Norwich, the 20-year-old is acutely aware the Premier League has nasty surprises in store for any team whose attitude is not right.

"Reading will be a difficult team to play against, especially at the Madejski," he said.

"They will have the crowd on their side and we will be up against it.

"But I am sure we have the strength to cope."

Victory would confirm United's present status ahead of the first Manchester derby of the season at the Etihad Stadium on December 8.

With European qualification already assured as well, Jones feels it has been a decent campaign for the Old Trafford outfit so far, even if they only kept their third clean sheet of the season in Wednesday's win over West Ham.

"We are playing well, passing the ball well and creating chances," he said.

"Hopefully the clean sheet against West Ham will spur us on to have more of them.

"It's nice for all of us to be sat top of the league and qualified for the Champions League knock-out stages.

"We are in a great position. Hopefully we can kick on from here."