Phil Jones in Fitness Race for Champions League Clash with Real Madrid

John BainesCorrespondent IFebruary 5, 2013

Fitness doubts for Phil ahead of Real Madrid clash
Fitness doubts for Phil ahead of Real Madrid clashChris Brunskill/Getty Images

Manchester United defender Phil Jones is a major doubt for the Reds' Champions League trip to Real Madrid after being struck down with a bout of shingles.

The 20-year-old missed United's Premier League win over Fulham on Saturday and was also pulled out of the England Under-21 squad to face Sweden on Wednesday.

The Old Trafford club gave no reason for Jones' absence but England Under-21 coach Stuart Pearce confirmed the former Blackburn man had contracted the virus.

Speaking ahead of the Young Lions' friendly with the Swedes at Walsall's Bescott Stadium, Pearce explained via the Daily Mail, "Jones has picked up shingles and that's a shame because we are stronger when he's here."

An initial diagnosis suggests the former Blackburn defender will be sidelined for up to two weeks, meaning he will almost certainly be absent for Everton's visit to Old Trafford at the weekend and United's crucial Champions League last-16 first-leg fixture away to Real Madrid next Wednesday.

Sir Alex Ferguson has recently deployed Jones in a midfield berth with the youngster excelling against Tottenham a fortnight ago, and it was thought the Scot may have utilised Jones in a similar role against the reigning La Liga champions.

The England international has only made 12 appearances for United so far this season following a knee operation at the start of the campaign, but this latest setback doesn't look like keeping Jones out of action for long.

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