Jones keen to shed unwanted tag

first_img This season may be reaching the halfway point, but Jones has played just five times for Manchester United. Jones was an ever-present during United’s pre-season tour of the United States, but he strained his hamstring during England’s win against Switzerland in September and, as soon as he returned, he suffered shin splints and missed seven matches. Press Association It was a pattern Jones is all too familiar with. Ever since he broke on to the scene as a teenager at Blackburn five seasons ago his career has been interrupted by injury – something he is clearly annoyed at. “It’s just the nature of football. People don’t wake up one morning and say I fancy being injured today, it is just the way it is,” the United centre-back said. “I started the pre-season and played every single game and every single training session. “I’d never had a muscle injury in my life and then on international duty, I pulled my hamstring so that was disappointing. And when I was coming back I then had shin splints. “I didn’t go into training and say I wanted to get injured that morning, it is just the way it has been. It has been unfortunate. “I could stand here and list 10 players who are always out injured.” Jones’ injury curse first struck in his final year at Blackburn, when he tore knee cartilage, but Sir Alex Ferguson still signed him six months later for £16.5million. Sir Bobby Charlton was so impressed with Jones shortly after he joined the club that he compared him with the Busby Babe Duncan Edwards, the greatest player to have worn United red in the eyes of some fans. But yet more knee problems, and an ankle injury, hindered Jones’ progress. His latest setbacks have restricted his playing time of late, but he suffered no reaction when he returned to action in Sunday’s 3-0 win over Liverpool and he hopes to go through the rest of the season without any problems. “My aim right now is to stay fit and stay focused, and get a run of games under my belt,” the 22-year-old said. “I have been doing a lot of work in the gym – strength work on the reformer, yoga and pilates and loads of stuff. “Hopefully that will stand me in good stead for the rest of the season. “Hopefully I can stay fit, and look after myself in games. “I will do anything I can to improve myself.” Jones is not the only United defender to suffer from injury this season. Senior officials thought the loss of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic would not be so profound as they said medical testing had shown Jones, Evans and Chris Smalling were expected to have their most injury-free seasons of their respective careers. Yet all three have missed part of the season due to injury and £16million import Marcos Rojo, who dislocated his shoulder in October, suffered a thigh injury in training last week. Louis van Gaal has used 17 different players in defence in this season. The United boss has fielded 10 different combinations at centre-back. Jones hopes Van Gaal will have a full complement of options available to him soon. “It always helps to play every game at the back with the same players,” Jones added. “You get a good understanding of each other and how one of you works, and what positions to take up.” Luckily for United, goalkeeper David de Gea has had an outstanding season and is one of the main reasons why they are third in the Barclays Premier League. “Some of the saves he makes are unbelievable,” Jones said “We are lucky to have him. He is one of the best in the world.” Like Jones, De Gea has 18 months left on his current deal. United are confident of hanging on to their goalkeeper and senior sources are believed to be “relaxed” about De Gea’s situation despite interest from Real Madrid, who are searching for a long-term replacement for Iker Casillas. Phil Jones hopes he will finally be able to rid himself of the “injury-prone” tag that has dogged him throughout his career. last_img read more

Bolt vows `never again’ after emotional London farewell

first_imgBy Ian ChadbandLONDON (Reuters) – Usain Bolt took an emotional final bow on the track at the end of the World Championships in London on Sunday before declaring that, definitely and definitively, there was no way he would ever return to sprinting.After embarking on a special lap of honour so slow that you could not believe that we were saying farewell to the world’s fastest man, Bolt was asked by reporters already missing him whether he might ever change his mind.“No, I’ve seen too many people come back and make things worse and shame themselves. I won’t be one of those people who come back,” Bolt said firmly.Twenty four hours earlier, the 30-year-old Jamaican’s matchless sprint career had ended painfully on the last leg of the 4 x 100 metres relay final as he crumpled to the ground in the London Stadium with a hamstring injury.Bolt, who admitted that it had been a terrible end of a “stressful” championship for him after also losing his 100 metres crown, said he had felt consoled on Sunday when someone told him “Muhammad Ali lost his last fight too — so don’t be too stressed about it”.Already he was looking forward to an exciting future, he said, with his management camp talking to IAAF President Sebastian Coe, about what he might be able to do for the sport in an ambassadorial capacity.He also revealed that his coach Glen Mills, the sage of Jamaican athletics, wanted him to become his coaching assistant.“So we’ll see how that goes,” Bolt smiled about the man who has put him through a lifetime of pain.And the great man even had reporters laughing when he gave them a vision of what a 50-year-old Usain Bolt might end up doing.“I’ve no idea. Hopefully, with three kids, married, still in track and field, trying to help the sport, watching it grow,” he said.“I don’t know if I’d take my kids to the track, though. I won’t be one of those parents who force their kids into things they don’t want to do.”WONDERFUL NIGHTIt was a wonderful night of celebration for athletics’ greatest entertainer with Bolt honoured one last time at the stadium where he achieved the second of his three Olympic sprint doubles.Coe and the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, presented him with a piece of the 2012 track as a memento before he embarked on his celebration lap, slowly soaking up all the non-stop cheers from the 56,000 full house – all to a Bob Marley soundtrack.He went over to the 200 metres and 100 metres start lines, knelt down and crossed himself.“I was saying goodbye to my fans but to my events also,” he said, admitting he had been close to tears.And after taking rather longer than the 9.63 seconds it took him to win the 100 metres crown here in 2012, he eventually stopped at the finish line and gave everyone his trademark lightning bolt impression.Before he had set off on the lap, he had told the crowd he just wanted to entertain and put on a show.He did just that before also getting a rare round of applause in the press room from “some of you guys who wrote bad things about me”.Asked what he hoped his legacy would be, he paused for a moment before saying: “I’ve proved with hard work anything is possible. I personally think this is a good message to the kids. ‘Push on, be strong, be as good as you can be’ – that’s a good legacy to leave’.”He was also adamant that he would “preach” to youngsters about avoiding the evil of performance-enhancing drugs.“The sport hit rock bottom last year and the year before and now we’re on the way back up,” he said.And his immediate aims? In typical Bolt fashion, he just smiled and declared: “The first thing I’m going to do is have some fun. Have a party and have a drink. I need to chill.”last_img read more