Phil Jones surprised by prominent role for Manchester United this season

 

Phil Jones has been surprised at the number of appearances he has made for Manchester United in his first season at Old Trafford.

Sir Alex Ferguson splashed out £18million to sign Jones from Blackburn last summer.

As a raw teenager, it was envisaged United would ease the Chorley-born player in gradually.

However, partly through the energy of his early performances, partly through his ability to operate in a variety of positions and with Nemanja Vidic's season ending early due to a knee injury, Jones has been thrown in at the deep end.

Sunday's win over Swansea represented his 40th appearance of the campaign in all competitions, a figure Jones finds it difficult to believe he has reached.

"It has gone really well," he said.

"If anyone had told me at the start of the season I would have made 40 appearances for Manchester United I would have snapped their hands off. It is incredible.

"I didn't expect it this season but it all started off really well.

"Perhaps I picked up a few injuries at the wrong time because at the back end of the season I couldn't really get my match fitness back.

"But now I feel good, fit and fresh and hopefully I can finish the season strongly."

Barring an unexpected turn of events in Manchester City's match against QPR next Sunday, Jones will end the campaign with a Barclays Premier League runners-up medal

Yet few who have watched Jones closely this term, particularly in the middle portion of the season when he was earning comparisons with legendary United star Duncan Edwards, doubt he is destined for the very top of the game.

Sam Allardyce knew it when he handed Jones his Blackburn debut two years ago, and asked him to mark Didier Drogba.

That he managed it was an indicator of the 20-year-old's laidback attitude, which ensured he was not overawed for long when he first wandered into United's dressing room.

"There is definitely a bit of personal intimidation," he said.

"You always raise the question to yourself. Am I good enough to be here?

"The manager has shown that faith in me. Hopefully I have repaid it.

"I found it relatively easy to adjust though, because at Blackburn I always saw myself as a player who likes to get the ball down, which is what United love to do."

Prior to Fabio Capello's surprise resignation in February it seemed Jones was a certainty to feature in England's Euro 2012 squad.

Now, with Roy Hodgson in charge and Jones' form taking a dip, it is not quite so certain.

However, the certain consolation prize would be an Olympics berth, so the youngster knows, one way or another, he is in for a busy summer.

"There are two massive competitions coming up at the end of the season," he said.

"Hopefully I can be part of one of them."

PA

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