Manchester United cannot afford to let up says Phil Jones

Red Devils sit top of the league

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The Independent Football

Manchester United have already achieved objective number one this season - now Phil Jones is looking to take maximum advantage of their excellent start.

It has been Sir Alex Ferguson's long-held view that if his team were within striking distance of the top of the Premier League on New Year's Day, he would fancy them for the title.

And United are in the happy position of knowing even if they lose all three fixtures before their Hogmanay trip to Wigan, and Manchester City won all theirs, they would only be three points behind.

The chances are their status will be far more healthy given they head into the weekend six points in front of their nearest challengers, and perfectly placed to turn the screw during the festive period.

"The manager talks a lot about the Christmas period being one of the toughest spells of the Premier League season and that to be in a strong position at the turn of the year is vital," said Jones.

"We've put ourselves in a good position but we want to make the most of it so we need to keep it going."

That means securing maximum points from Sunday's tricky trip to Swansea.

Although United emerged victorious at the Liberty Stadium in last season's corresponding fixture courtesy of Javier Hernandez's goal, the south Wales outfit feel they did not do themselves justice and further improvement is expected from the League Cup semi-finalists.

However, the return of skipper Nemanja Vidic against Sunderland last week and the likely availability of Shinji Kagawa for the first time since an October knee operation means Ferguson will be choosing from strength.

And Jones knows everyone will be playing their part, which is handy for the 20-year-old, who has been limited to just six appearances so far this season after summer back and knee problems.

"You have to accept that injuries are part of football," said Jones.

"It was frustrating that I got back from one injury and then on my first or second day back in training I did my knee.

"I thought I had hit rock bottom.

"It's not a nice feeling to be injured but you've got to keep grinding it out and doing your work in the gym."