REUTERS – Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal said he hoped defender Phil Jones would get some minutes under his belt with England in order to move him closer to full match fitness.
Jones made his comeback to United’s first team from “mild thrombosis” two weeks ago and has been called up for England’s European Championship qualifiers against Estonia on Friday night and Lithuania on Monday.
“I think it’s always an honour to play for your country. And, in our build-up of his condition in the games, he needs match rhythm,” Van Gaal told the club’s website (www.manutd.com).
“I shall be very pleased when he plays for England because that helps him to get minutes for Manchester United. That’s important.”
The former Blackburn Rovers defender said he hoped to feature for England, who have already qualified for the tournament in France next year, but felt building up his fitness was his primary concern at the moment.
“Playing for England is a huge honour and I want to be part of the squad and part of the Euros, but I know I have to maintain a good level of form and fitness for United to be able to do that,” Jones said.
“That’s my short-term focus.”
(Reporting by Shravanth Vijayakumar in Bengaluru. Editing by Patrick Johnston)