Manchester United defender Phil Jones is likely to get his first taste of football action of the season during the Red Devils' Capital One Cup clash against Ipswich Town on Wednesday, 23 September. The defender was not considered likely to get any game time due to his lack of match fitness despite returning to first-team training, but injuries to defensive duo Paddy McNair and Marcos Rojo have forced Louis van Gaal's hand. The England international has yet to play this season after suffering mild thrombosis prior to their opening day encounter against Tottenham Hotspur.
The Dutchman is already without Luke Shaw after the defender suffered a double fracture. This is likely to keep him out for up to six months. Van Gaal now faces the prospect of shuffling his back four yet again after opting to use the Argentine defender at left-back for their win over Southampton on Sunday, 20 September. But the manager has now revealed that the defender was playing with an injury and is now ruled in for the game against the Championship side in the League Cup. McNair replaced Rojo midway through the game at St Mary's, but he has also suffered a minor injury ruling him out of Wednesday's clash.
Van Gaal is unhappy at having three of his defenders injured, but has indicated that he will have no problems lining up a strong starting XI. The injuries to the trio have handed Phil Jones a way back into the first-team, which he would have otherwise struggled to get, due to the exceptional form shown by United's entire back four of Chris Smalling, Daley Blind, Matteo Darmian and Shaw.
"Marcos Rojo is not ready to play. Neither is Paddy McNair, who is also injured. It's not so nice that we have three defenders injured but I can line up 11 players so that is not the problem," Van Gaal is quoted as saying by the Manchester Evening News.
"I thought we were right on time for Rojo because we changed him in the game and he didn't warn us that he was injured. He has a hamstring injury and Paddy McNair has a minor injury," he explained.
"I have to admit that (Jones returns) because of the injury of three defenders, I shall have him on the bench but he is not fit, maybe he can play 30 minutes, he is a lucky boy that I don't have other substitutes," the Dutch manager added.