Phil Jones’ annus horribilis plumbed new depths on Monday night as he struggled once again during a run-out for Manchester United’s Under-21s side.
The England international, who looks increasingly unlikely to make Roy Hodgson’s squad for this summer’s European Championships, is recovering from a malleolar injury which he suffered at the start of February.
Jones, who saw his display against Chelsea’s Under-21s earlier this month roundly criticised, has been attempting to regain match fitness and play his way back into Louis van Gaal’s first-team plans, having made three appearances for the reserve side in recent weeks.
However, the 24-year-old defender’s sub-par display in Monday’s 2-1 defeat to Southampton will not have helped his cause.
Jones conceded a free-kick after being “humiliated” by Sam Gallagher, according to the Manchester Evening News, and the set-piece led to Paddy McNair’s ultimately decisive own goal.
The former Blackburn Rovers youth product was substituted for Demetri Mitchell in the 76th-minute, with the score at 2-0, and his poor showing did not go unnoticed by the club’s supporters.
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Jones could yet be included in the squad for Sunday’s game against Leicester City, which could see the Foxes confirmed as Premier League champions.
The centre-back has not featured for Van Gaal’s first team since January 2, during the 2-1 win over Swansea City, and has made just six league starts this season.