Phil Jones has joined manager Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in hitting out at Rio Ferdinand’s comments on the defender’s career.
Jones moved to United from Blackburn in 2011 and, as such, is one of the club’s longest-serving players. However, his first two years proved arguably his most successful, amid his role in the 2013 Premier League title win under Sir Alex Ferguson.
In recent times, though, the 29-year-old has struggled for match action through injury.
In fact, he has not played for the Red Devils’ first team since January 2020. He missed the entirety of last term, but has made his comeback with Under-23 football this campaign.
Former United centre-back Ferdinand made headlines when he questioned the club’s decision to hand Jones a new contract.
Solskjaer hit back at Ferdinand, insisting that Jones has worked hard to try to shake off his injury nightmare. As a result, Ferdinand apologised and admitted that he realised the adversity the defender has faced after speaking to United insiders.
But Jones told United’s official podcast that the injury struggles were “the lowest I probably ever felt in my life”.
He added that he found it “tough” to watch any football because he felt “stuck”.
In another interview with The Sunday Times, Jones hit back at his former team-mate Ferdinand for his comments.
“Listen, the respect I’ve got is enormous,” the defender said.
“I’ve shared a dressing room with Rio — great professional. Loved playing with him. Great lad, good humour. Learnt so much off him.
“But what he said was poor. Really poor. I’m not into disputes, not into arguments, and if he didn’t know, he didn’t know.”
Solskjaer has been involved in another war of words with Ferdinand, over Cristiano Ronaldo’s touchline antics in Tuesday’s Champions League defeat to Young Boys.
Phil Jones’ knee injury struggles
Jones, meanwhile, has suffered with persistent knee injuries throughout his career. Indeed, in 2010, he suffered torn cartilage while at Blackburn and had to undergo surgery.
In 2012, the Englishman endured a meniscus tear and underwent another operation.
Opening up on that injury in his recent interview, he said: “For years I’d go into games thinking, ‘I shouldn’t really be playing,’ and players would look at me, see the swelling and be thinking, ‘He’s playing here?’”
As well Ferdinand’s words, Jones has also suffered online criticism.
“I’m proud of my career,” he said. “When it finishes & I’m enjoying my life, the keyboard warriors will be in their mum’s spare bedroom, sipping Diet Pepsi that’s flat, eating a pot noodle, sitting in their boxers, tweeting.”
Jones has played two successive 90-minute stints for United’s Under-23s this term, including Saturday’s 2-1 win over Brighton.