Jones has had a tough time at United through injuries especially. The center-half has battled through and recovered from injury after injury. Despite his setbacks, it was always known that Jones was determined to try and get back to full fitness in the hope of returning to the starting 11 once again.
After featuring against Tranmere Rovers and scoring in that 6-0 FA Cup victory in 2020, Jones spent 20 months out with injury. He made his return for the reserves in September 2021 and following his return, he opened up about his injury problems saying;
“I think as a footballer, as a person, as a human being, that’s the lowest I probably ever felt in my life.”
Jones became an out-of-favor player at United, especially since the club has brought in defensive signings, it hasn’t opened a door for the 29-year-old to come back into the first team. It was looking incredibly likely that Jones would have never played another game for the club but there were no signs that he would be moving on any time soon either.
United played Wolves on Monday and with a late injury blow to Harry Maguire it opened the door for a chance for Jones to play, which he did. A return and a milestone for the Englishman that was 712 days in the making, the fanbase instantly got behind the center-half from the moment his name was placed on the team sheet.
Some people had the question in the back of their mind, would Jones be fully fit and up to match sharpness and would he be a liability? The answer was a simple no come the final whistle. Arguably, the Englishman was the best player on the pitch throughout the game and showed the fans and Ralf Rangnick that he wanted to play for the badge, something the fans always cry out for.
If you were to look at Jones’ game in numbers you’d assume they were the stats of his partner in defense, Raphael Varane. Jones made two clearances, blocked three shots, made two interceptions and three successful tackles. He was only dribbled past once in the 90 minutes and as well as his impressive defensive stats, Jones completed 45 (90%) accurate passes.
There is now a chance that Jones could continue to reignite the remainder of his playing career. His current contract will keep him at United until the summer of 2023, meaning he has just over a year left before he would be allowed to leave for free.
Nobody knows whether Rangnick will plan to use Jones on another occasion this season but his performance on Monday night highlighted that he is a determined character who wants to play football, whether it is for United or not.
Jones deserves at least another chance in the first team before the final days of the January window. Should the defender continue to perform then he could be given more chances at United. If the club does not see him as a player they plan to use then they should allow him to move on and be able to play football for the final years of his career.