Phil Jones and Wayne Rooney have handed Louis van Gaal a major boost by coming through unscathed following their outing with the Manchester United U21 side in their 1-0 win over Middlesbrough, which took the young Red Devils to the cusp of retaining their U21 Premier League title. The duo are returning from ankle and knee injuries respectively, and took part in the reserve fixture to rebuild their match fitness.
The former is playing with the academy team for the second time since his return, with his first appearance coming against Chelsea, but this time around he completed the entire 90 minutes. Jones, however, believes he is still a long way off from full fitness and could feature yet again before making a return to the first-team. The 24-year-old defender was also delighted for Rooney – who played for just over an hour – and is hoping to convince the manager to include him for their FA Cup replay against West Ham United on 13 April.
The 30-year-old England international suffered a knee injury midway through February, was delighted to return to action as he bids to prove his fitness to Van Gaal and England manager Roy Hodgson, who will name his squad for the European Championship finals in France in just under a month.
"I played against Chelsea and it was difficult coming back for my first game in a while. It's always difficult fitness-wise and your sharpness is always way off so it was nice to play 90 minutes and I'm looking forward to the coming games," Jones told MUTV.
"That's the idea [to get back in the first team] but I've still got a long way to go with my fitness and getting the sharpness back. This was a good step in the right direction."
"It was nice to see Wazza out there. He's a talented player and is getting back to fitness. Hopefully, he won't be far away either," the Red Devils defender added.
"Brilliant feeling to be back playing at Old Trafford last night. Thanks to all the staff at Manchester United who have been helping me with my recovery," Rooney wrote on his official Instagram page.