Mourinho backs Jones for England recall

Jose Mourinho has revealed his delight at the return to form of Manchester United and England defender Phil Jones.

The 24-year-old former Blackburn Rovers centre-back, who Sir Alex Ferguson insisted could be the club's best ever defensive signing when he joined in 2011 for £16.5m, has suffered from 28 different injuries or illnesses during his five years at Old Trafford.

But after overcoming the medial knee-ligament injury he sustained in September, he was recalled to the side to face Swansea in November in the absence of Chris Smalling and Eric Bailly.

United went on to win that match 3-1, and Jones has since appeared in seven consecutive games.

Jones' form has prompted Mourinho to stake a claim for his return to the England set-up, with the player having accumulated 20 caps following his debut in 2011.

Ahead of the Premier League clash with Crystal Palace on Wednesday, Mourinho said: "Jones is doing this season much better than in the previous two seasons and he's giving hope to everyone that he can be back to normality.

"And who knows? Be back to the national team, be a firm choice at Manchester United, because he's doing very well."

He added: "I'm surprised because even with me he had these injuries that stopped him for a long time.

"But he was recovering first with people we trust in the medical department and then he was working really hard with one of my guys, Carlos Lalin, for around three weeks before he joined us and he had a big improvement in his physical condition.

"Now he looks fresh and sharp and fast, agile. I think he had a big evolution and I think he played seven matches.

"Seven matches from Jones, I don't remember when he last did that.

"So in a period with [Eric] Bailly and Smalling [out] when people could be scared, [Jones and Rojo] step up and both play so many matches already, without defeat, playing well and solid and I'm really happy for them."