Pundit singles out 25-year-old as key to Man United defence

Garth Crooks heaps praise on Manchester United defender Phil Jones after their fifth Premier League win of the season

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho Photo: The Sport Review

Garth Crooks hailed Phil Jones as vital to Manchester United’s clean sheet in a 1-0 win at Southampton last weekend.

The England international started in the heart of Jose Mourinho’s back four alongside Eric Bailly, Antonio Valencia and Matteo Darmian.

Romelu Lukaku scored a 20th-minute winner to secure three points in the Premier League to move level on points with Manchester City at the top of the table.

Manchester United have now kept five clean sheets in six Premier League games and only Stoke City have managed to score against Mourinho’s men.

Jones has been ever-present in the Red Devils team alongside Bailly as the pair form a formidable centre-half partnership.

Former Spurs forward Crooks felt that Jones played a key role in helping Manchester United to maintain their unbeaten record and keep pace with their derby rivals at the top of the table.

“It was the performance by Jones that stood out for me,” Crooks told BBC Sport.

“He’s now staying on his feet far more than when he first arrived at Old Trafford and doesn’t go crashing into opponents needlessly anymore, which probably accounts for his clean bill of health.”

Mourinho signed Swedish defender Victor Lindelof in a £30.7m deal in the summer transfer window but the former Benfica man has been unable to dislodge Bailly and Jones in the club’s starting XI in the Premier League.

The Red Devils will take on Russian side CSKA Moscow in the Champions League in Moscow on Wednesday night.

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