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Dublin: 1 °C Wednesday 17 January, 2018
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Southgate moves to defuse Jones row as United defender ruled out again

Jones will miss Saturday’s trip to Arsenal and hasn’t featured since limping out of England’s friendly with Germany.

Jones had six pain-killing injections before facing Germany earlier this month.
Jones had six pain-killing injections before facing Germany earlier this month.
Image: PA Wire/Press Association Images

ENGLAND BOSS GARETH Southgate understands Jose Mourinho’s anger over an injury to Phil Jones but insists he trusts the decisions made by his medical staff.

The Manchester United centre-back has not played for his club since being withdrawn in the first half of this month’s 0-0 friendly draw with Germany with a thigh problem, and has been ruled out of tomorrow’s clash with Arsenal.

Mourinho was scathing of England’s decision to play Jones, claiming he had never before experienced a player receiving six pain-killing injections in order to play in a non-competitive game.

Southgate, however, says there has been ongoing talks with United over the issue and gave his backing to the national team’s doctors.

“First and foremost, I have massive empathy with Jose,” he said ahead of Friday’s World Cup draw.

“As a manager, you don’t want to lose players to injury. For me, as the national coach, that’s the worst scenario: when a player goes back to his club and is not able to play.

“Manchester United are incredibly supportive of everything we do. Sometimes people suggest that is not the case but they are arguably our most supportive club. We are very conscious of our relationship with them.

“We have got ongoing dialogue over this situation – it is a complex one and we want to make sure we get these things right.

“Equally, I have every trust in our medical team that they make the right calls. They are very experienced people and this is an unfortunate situation and we hope Phil is back playing as soon as he can be.”

Speaking at his pre-match press conference ahead of the trip to the Emirates, Mourinho confirmed Jones is still unavailable for selection while Eric Bailly also remains sidelined.

More significant, however, is the news Nemanja Matic is a major doubt for Saturday’s Premier League clash after suffering a muscular problem during the midweek win at Watford.

“I don’t know if he can play,” Mourinho said on Friday. “He’s travelling with the team, he’s going to try and hopefully he can, but I cannot guarantee he is ready.”

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