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Phil Jones aiming to prove himself at Manchester United after injury woe

By Paul Hirst

Phil Jones has suffered back, knee, ankle, hamstring and shin problems since joining Manchester United so it was no surprise that he was left cursing his luck when his injury jinx struck again this summer.

Shortly after touching down in Manchester following a two-and-a-half-week tour of the United States, Jones felt a tightness in one of his calves.

The 23-year-old had a scan on the area in question and when the results came back it was bad news. Jones had developed a blood clot in one of his calves. He had thrombosis.

"You can't control it," said Jones. "It was one of the most frustrating periods of my career.

"I was in the gym every day and the lads were playing. I just wanted to be part of it. I don't want any sympathy. I am just happy to be back."

In total Jones has missed 59 matches over the last five years due to a catalogue of injuries.

Now he wants a long run in the team to prove he can cut it as a top Premier League centre-back - as Chris Smalling has done in his absence.

"That's what I need - a run of games," Jones said. "The more games you play, the more confident you get and I think Chris has been terrific this season and hopefully we can cement a partnership together."

Smalling is the perfect example of a man whose confidence has improved after a long run in the team. The 25-year-old's form has been key to the fact that United have the joint-best defensive record in the league.

Wayne Rooney has been so impressed that he rates him as one of the best three centre-backs in the world.

"When you hear praise, especially from Wazza, you just want to show that it's not just words that are meaningless," said Smalling, the only United player to have started every game this season.

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