England boss Gareth Southgate has defended the decision to start Phil Jones in last month's draw with Germany despite the Manchester United defender suffering a recurrence of a thigh injury during the international friendly at Wembley.

Jones needed six injections and heavy strapping to begin the game at the heart of the Three Lions defence but was withdrawn just 25 minutes into the goalless draw after aggravating the pre-existing problem.

United boss Jose Mourinho took aim at Southgate and England for their mismanagement of Jones, who has missed all four games since the international break and is expected to be absent for the trip to Arsenal on Saturday [2 December].

But Southgate said, according to Sky Sports: "We have got ongoing dialogue over this situation - it is a complex one and we want to make sure we get these things right.

"Equally, I have every trust in our medical team that they make the right calls. They are very experienced people and this is an unfortunate situation and we hope Phil is back playing as soon as he can be."

"I have massive empathy with Jose," the ex-Aston Villa and Middlesbrough defender added. "As a manager, you don't want to lose players to injury. For me, as the national coach, that's the worst scenario when a player goes back to his club and is not able to play.

"Manchester United are incredibly supportive of everything we do. Sometimes people suggest that is not the case but they are arguably our most supportive club. We are very conscious of our relationship with them."

Mourinho was further exacerbated by the withdrawal of seven other players due to injury prior to Jones being risked, many of whom went on to represent their club sides when the domestic season resumed the following week. United also lost Eric Bailly to injury during the international break while Harry Kane, Dele Alli, Harry Winks, Jordan Henderson, Fabian Delph, Raheem Sterling and Jack Butland all pulled out of the squad which took on Germany and Brazil.

But while Butland [broken finger] and Winks [knee] missed Stoke City and Tottenham Hotspur's games against Brighton and Hove Albion and Arsenal respectively, the remaining quintet all started the next game for their club side.

Gareth Southgate and Phil Jones
Southgate insists England did all they could to protect Jones. Getty Images