Belfast Telegraph

Mourinho slams England for playing Jones despite injury

By Mark Critchley

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has angrily questioned England's decision to give injured defender Phil Jones six anesthetic injections before last week's friendly against Germany.

Jones aggravated a long-standing thigh injury during the goalless draw at Wembley and his club manager says he will play no part when Newcastle United visit Old Trafford for today's evening Premier League kick-off.

Mourinho expressed his frustration at the national team's use of Jones and described himself as "naive" in comparison to other Premier League coaches who withdraw players carrying injuries from international selection.

The United manager was no happier yesterday when he revealed that Jones received a total of six local anesthetic injections in order to play. Five of those injections, according to Mourinho, were administered shortly before kick-off after Jones had complained of some discomfort during the warm-up.

"Every player that was injured last week, I expect they are not playing," he said when asked whether Jones could return for United today.

"For me, the more strange thing with Phil Jones is that in 17 years as a manager, I haven't had one single player that had injections of anesthetic to play a friendly. Never."

Mourinho added: "I'm not an angel. I've had players injected to play official matches and crucial matches, but a friendly? To get six local anesthetic injections to play a friendly? I never heard about it."

Mourinho said he had not spoken to England manager Gareth Southgate or anyone at the FA about his complaints.

Jones has played regularly under Mourinho this season as one of United's two first-choice centre-backs, but the 25-year-old has been carrying this current injury since limping off during the defeat at Huddersfield Town last month.

Although Mourinho will be without Jones for Newcastle's visit, he will finally be able to call upon Paul Pogba, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Marcos Rojo again.

Pogba has been sidelined since picking up a hamstring injury in the Champions League victory over Basel in September, while both Ibrahimovic and Rojo suffered cruciate knee ligament damage during the triumphant Europa League campaign in April.

At 36-years-old, Ibrahimovic's injury was considered to be career-threatening and United allowed the Swede's one-year contract to expire last summer before his recovery led to the offer of a year-long extension.

"Zlatan, last season we played with him every minute until he was injured," Mourinho said. "This season we've learnt how to play without him. We've played in a different way but he's a very important player for us."

Pogba, meanwhile, impressed during United's excellent start to the campaign and Mourinho admits that since the midfielder's injury against Basel, his side have not looked the same without him.

"I didn't like to speak while he was injured but you can clearly see Manchester United this season before Paul's injury and after Paul's injury," the United manager said. "There are qualities in our football that influence our approach in matches with Pogba and without Pogba. It's as simple as that."

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