Manchester United defender Phil Jones hands Louis van Gaal a defensive boost after returning to training ahead of their clash against CSKA Moscow on Tuesday night (3 November). The defender missed the Red Devils' 0-0 draw against Crystal Palace in the Premier League after the manager admitted that his fitness levels were in the 'red zone'.
The former Blackburn Rovers defender will replace young defender Axel Tuanzebe, who made the bench for the clash against the Eagles on Saturday (31 October). Van Gaal, however, has confirmed that Jones will replace the 17-year-old defender for the clash against the Russian club.
Memphis Depay will miss the clash after failing to recover from the knock he sustained during United's penalty shootout loss against Middlesbrough in the Capital One Cup. The Dutch international is having a difficult time nailing down a regular place in the squad due to poor form in recent weeks, with Van Gaal preferring Anthony Martial in the wide left role. Moreover, he has now been overlooked by Netherlands manager Danny Blind for their upcoming friendly against Wales on 13 November. But Van Gaal has backed the player to improve, while admitting that his omission is purely based on his current form.
Meanwhile, Morgan Schneiderlin could yet feature despite missing training on Monday (2 November), which he was permitted to do by the manager due to personal reasons. The midfielder has regained his place in the United midfield after being overlooked for the game against Arsenal.
"Phil Jones has replaced him [Tuanzebe] and Phil Jones is returning in the selection, so my preference is for Phil Jones," Van Gaal told United's official site.
"Every player needs a boost when he is out of the team and Memphis is not an exception. The consequence of not being in the national selection is because he is not playing that well. It is always the same – a player always has to perform well, otherwise there will be other players compared and the coach will make a choice."
"He [Morgan] had private reasons to be excused and I accepted his reasons," the Dutch manager added.