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Friday 20 October 2017

Jose's happy Herrera is under radar

Spaniard has become a vital part of Mourinho's Red Devils masterplan

Ander Herrera in action with Tottenham's Jan Vertonghen Picture: Reuters
Ander Herrera in action with Tottenham's Jan Vertonghen Picture: Reuters

Jose Mourinho insists he is fully aware of Ander Herrera's importance to Manchester United's midfield - even if the Spaniard's performances are going under the radar.

Herrera has become a regular in Mourinho's midfield alongside Paul Pogba and Michael Carrick.

But while their contribution has received a lot of attention, Herrera has been quietly impressive.

"I think the most important thing for a player is the manager and the fans," Mourinho said ahead of tonight's trip to south London to face Crystal Palace.

"Ander has (the backing of) both the manager and the fans. So I don't think he's worried about others bringing him to the limelight; he knows that he is having a phenomenal season for us.

"That is why he plays, that is why he had his international debut with the Spanish national team. And yes, I think our midfield was very good on Sunday, all of them, so I'm happy for them.

"That is why he plays, that is why he had his international debut with the Spanish national team. And yes, I think our midfield was very good on Sunday, all of them, so I'm happy for them."

Efforts

Meanwhile, Mourinho claims fit-again and in-form United defender Phil Jones could be back on track to regain his place in the England squad.

Jones made the last of his 20 senior international appearances as a late substitute at Wembley against France in November 2015 when the two sides helped honour the victims of the Paris terror attacks.

The 24-year-old overcame a succession of injuries to return to United's starting line-up in November after a lengthy absence had led to questions about his future at Old Trafford and Mourinho expressed his surprise at the central defender's rapid progress.

Mourinho, who insisted it was way too early to compare Jones to the likes of his defensive rock at Chelsea, John Terry, said: "I prefer to say that Jones is doing this season much better than in the previous two seasons and he's giving hope to everyone that he can be back to normality.

"And who knows? Be back to the national team, be a firm choice at Manchester United, because he's doing very well."

Surprised

Jones was recalled by Mourinho in the win at Swansea in early November due to Chris Smalling's absence and has started in six of United's subsequent seven matches, forming a reliable partnership with Marcos Rojo.

"I'm surprised because even with me he had these injuries that stopped him for a long time," Mourinho said. told a press conference before Wednesday night's Premier League game at Crystal Palace.

"But he was recovering first with people we trust in the medical department and then he was working really hard with one of my guys, Carlos Lalin, for around three weeks before he joined us and he had a big improvement in his physical condition.

"Now he looks fresh and sharp and fast, agile. I think he had a big evolution and I think he played seven matches.

"Seven matches from Jones, I don't remember when he last did that.

"So in a period with (Eric) Bailly and Smalling (both out) when people could be scared, (Jones and Rojo) step up and both play so many matches already, without defeat, playing well and solid and I'm really happy for them."

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