To say Phil Jones is the forgotten man of Manchester United would be an understatement.
The 30-year-old has been at Old Trafford for more than 11 years but his woeful injury record means he has barely kicked a ball in three years, having made just five appearances since January 2020 – and those only came last season when Ralf Rangnick reintegrated Jones into a side that had long lost its way.
Thursday night’s visit of Aston Villa in the Carabao Cup represents one of Jones’ final chances to get a meaningful send-off, which, despite what some may suggest, he deserves after over a decade at the club.
His contract runs out at the end of this season and having not been registered to play in either the Premier League or Europa League, the domestic cups provide the only opportunity for game time for him between now and the summer. Sadly, the chances of Jones getting a shock call-up to face Unai Emery’s side look remote, to say the least.
He has not been part of a single matchday squad since Erik ten Hag’s arrival and has not been pictured in training since last season. His last involvement with the first team was the final day defeat at Crystal Palace last season where he was an unused substitute. His last outing was a 16-minute run-out from the bench in a home win over Brentford back in April.
Were United to be dumped out of the Carabao Cup on Thursday, the FA Cup would represent Jones’ final opportunity to say goodbye to the United fans, with the former Blackburn man expected to no longer be a United player next season.
Would United have been better off terminating his deal or allowing him to get some game time out on loan? It is a question that has been asked plenty of times.
Despite his lack of involvement over the last few years, Jones has been a loyal and respectful servant to the club for well over a decade.
The chance of a United swansong, even if it is a brief sub appearance, would be a suitable way to bring the curtain down on his Old Trafford career rather than simply disappearing from view without mention.