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Thursday 8 December 2016

Jones: 'I'm fit and ready for Emirates test'

Phil Jones
Phil Jones

Phil Jones has declared himself fit to start Manchester United's crunch clash with Arsenal tomorrow.

And with Louis van Gaal admitting he faces a dilemma filling the void left by Luke Shaw's injury, the England defender could come into his thoughts for the trip to the Emirates.

Jones has recovered from the blood clot he suffered in pre-season - coming on as a substitute in each of United's last three games.

Van Gaal could opt to use him at right back after taking off Antonio Valencia at half time in Tuesday's 2-1 Champions League win against Wolfsburg - or deploy him in the centre, moving Daley Blind to left back.

Either way, the 23-year-old is just eager to play after a frustrating start to a campaign in which he expected to establish himself in the heart of United's defence.

"I am fit," said Jones. "I got 20 or 25 minutes against Ipswich, 20 minutes against Sunderland and just under 20 minutes against Wolfsburg, so I am slowly getting back to it and getting my fitness back, and my sharpness back.

"I feel good, so hopefully I can just stay fit and integrate my way back into the side."

Van Gaal prefers the balance of playing left-footed Blind alongside right-footer Chris Smalling in the centre. But he is struggling to accommodate the loss of Shaw, who is out for at least six months with double leg fracture.

Matteo Darmian has been moved to the left, with Valencia given the chance to establish himself on the right side of United defence.

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But the Ecuadorian's poor display against Wolfsburg - playing Daniel Caligiuri onside for the Germans' opener, prompted Van Gaal to hook him after 45 minutes.

The Dutchman admits he has a difficult decision to make over his full backs for the game against Arsenal.

He said: "I have to choose because Shaw is injured and I have to choose who has to play left back because (Marcos) Rojo is also injured so that is not so easy."

Victory against Wolfsburg got United's Champions League campaign back on track following defeat to PSV Eindhoven in their opening game in Group B.

Jones added: "It was important that we got back to winning ways in the group after a disappointing start."

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