Phil Jones and Chris Smalling
Manchester United defender Phil Jones [R] is keen to create a solid partnership with club and country teammate Chris Smalling. Getty

Phil Jones is delighted to be back with the Manchester United first-team after recovering from a mild thrombosis, which kept him out for the first two months of the season. The defender made his first appearance of the season in the Red Devils' third round Capital One Cup clash against Ipswich Town. He has now started and completed the full 90 minutes in the last three games, alongside Chris Smalling.

Louis van Gaal had preferred Daley Blind alongside the former Fulham defender during Jones' absence, but following the debacle against Arsenal, where they lost 3-0 with all goals scored within the first 20 minutes, the Dutchman, who is primarily a left-back, has fallen out-of-favour with the manager. They have begun to create a solid partnership at the heart of United's back four with the club yet to concede a goal from open play since the game against the Gunners in the Premier League.

Jones admits that his time on the sidelines was frustrating, but is now ready to move on and cement his place in United's back four alongside Smalling. The 23-year-old defender, has been deployed in a number of positions since his arrival - he has played at right-back, centre-back and in a defensive midfield role.

The former Blackburn Rovers defender, however, is hoping to get a good run of games in his preferred central defender's role and build a strong relationship with his England international teammate [Smalling], who he feels is a natural leader and communicator. He is unconcerned about United's links to Borussia Dortmund defender Mats Hummels and Real Madrid's Sergio Ramos, as he believes that he has the capability to hold down a place despite their arrival.

"It's just one of those things, you can't control it. It [injury absence] was one of the most frustrating periods of my career, sitting out at home not being able to do anything much," Jones said, as quoted by the Manchester Evening news.

"I don't think anyone will ever realise how hard it is at times. But I don't want any sympathy. I am just happy to be back. You just have to forget about it and move on."

"We are at Man United, so we are always going to be linked with Ramos or Hummels or whoever it is. It's not a problem. It's something you have to deal with from when you are a kid," the former Blackburn defender explained.

"You have to battle your way through and show people. If you cannot cope with that you don't deserve to be at the club. We are at one of the best clubs in the world. I would be a bit worried if we weren't linked with the best players in the world. It's natural and healthy."

"A million per cent, it's what I need - a run of games. The more games you play, the more confident you get and I think Chris has been terrific this season and hopefully we can cement a partnership together."

"Every time I play with Chris, he's comfortable. He is a great leader, a great talker. We complement each other well. We haven't played that many games together but when we have we have done well so hopefully we can keep going and be strong," he added.