Jones backs Blackburn to survive
Phil Jones is confident Blackburn's fortunes will improve - but not until 2012.
The Manchester United defender is hoping to shake off an illness in time to face his former club for the first time since his £17million summer departure. And with Premier League leaders Manchester City not in action until New Year's Day, United have the opportunity to steal a march on their local rivals.
Jones knows that scenario would condemn Blackburn to bring in the new year as the top flight's basement boys but he is confident they will eventually haul themselves out of trouble, telling United Review: "As soon as we come off the pitch I always look to see how Blackburn have got on. I am sure they will kick on and things will improve."
He added: "Unfortunately they are at the bottom of the table but they are a lot better than their league position shows."
Not that Blackburn have been able to show it in recent seasons.
Of their last 10 Premier League meetings with United, seven have been lost, and when Rovers earned a share of the spoils at Ewood Park in May, it was a result Ferguson was quite happy with as it ensured his side finished champions for a record 19th time.
Before that, Jones was part of the Rovers side managed by Sam Allardyce that suffered a 7-1 mauling at Old Trafford, a result the 19-year-old claims to be "probably the worst day of my football career".
Tipped to skipper England one day by former boss Steve Kean, Jones knows most of the players he will be up against.
And he is refusing to take anything for granted, saying: "It's going to be tough. I know what sort of squad Blackburn have and there are some cracking players there. We can't take them lightly."