Jose Mourinho has hailed Manchester United defender Phil Jones after the England international braved a major injury scare and returned to the team to hold the Red Devils' backline together. With Chris Smalling and Eric Bailly both out through injury, Mourinho had to depend on Jones and Marcos Rojo, both of whom have delivered when required.

Jones started against Arsenal and was solid for the most part except for the end where he was beaten by Olivier Giroud in the air for the Gunners' equaliser. Mourinho, who is known for his defensive organisation, revealed that he is impressed by Jones' attitude, despite fearing that the defender has run his course when he succumbed to yet another injury earlier this season.

"The team is always the most important thing but I'm happy for him when so many people were thinking about him being injury prone and that it is difficult for him to be back to his level," said Mourinho. "I have to confess even myself, when he was injured again at the beginning of the season, I was also feeling that fear," Mourinho said, as quoted by the Mirror.

"But in the last month we have seen him deliver great performances at a moment when the team has lost Eric Bailly and Chris Smalling. Phil gave us the stability we have at the moment. He has a good personality and now, with one or two weeks of ­football and training, looks very sharp and the team are safe."

Jones has started only 39 games over the past three seasons, with his time at United marked by a series of injuries. Mourinho will be hoping that he can keep himself fit in the absence of his first choice centre-backs. Bailly is expected to be back before the end of the year but will be unavailable yet again as he will have to travel to Ivory Coast for the African Cup of Nations.