Phil Jones confident he will receive starting opportunities at Manchester United next season

by Leo Nieboer

Phil Jones is confident of receiving opportunities in the first team under Jose Mourinho next season.

The Portuguese has no intentions of letting Jones leave over the summer and will instead allow Chris Smalling, following a disappointing 2016/17 campaign, to find a new club instead.

He has started both of Manchester United’s pre-season games so far but provided cause for concern with a flimsy display against Real Salt Lake City on Monday night.

But the 25-year-old, speaking soon after the game, believes that he will have an important role to play at Old Trafford next season.

“Whoever I’ve played under – [Sir Alex] Ferguson, [David] Moyes, Louis van Gaal, Mourinho – if I’ve been fit then the majority of the time I’ve played,” he said.

“If there’s competition, there’s competition. There are some terrific defenders at the club. That’s the way it should be as well. You want to test yourself against the best and with the best and that’s what we’ve got here.”

“It was a sloppy goal [against Real Salt Lake] and we conceded two sloppy goals the other night, but we’ve got to look forward. We’ve got Manchester City on Thursday and we are looking forward to it.”

Mourinho will have to rely on Jones during the first half of the season as Marcos Rojo, one of his best defenders last season, looks set to remain on the sidelines until 2018.

Eric Bailly and Victor Lindelof will feature most regularly, but Jones will need to make himself available as a reliable cover option as Mourinho’s men once again battle on four different fronts.

Daley Blind and Axel Tuanzebe can rightfully stake a claim for that role as well, and it remains to be seen whether Smalling – who continues to work with the first team squad – will be considered surplus to requirements or instead as another option under Mourinho next year.

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