Newcastle United must jump at the chance to sign Steve Bruce’s ideal Jamaal Lascelles partner in Manchester United defender Phil Jones.
According to Eurosport, Bruce is in talks with Red Devils assistant coach Michael Carrick to gain a better understanding of the centre-half’s fitness and motivation levels ahead of the January transfer window.
Jones is expected to be made available for a transfer in the mid-season market and believes he still has plenty to offer the right side, despite featuring just three times in 2020 after being omitted from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Premier League and Champions League squads.
Solskjaer took the decision to leave the 28-year-old out of his initial 2020/21 options whilst the centre-half recovers from injury, but is hopeful he will be fit to feature in December.
United are open to offers for the 27-cap England international as they are aware his near-£80,000-per-week contract could prove problematic in negotiations, which is expected to help Jones secure a move away in January should he find a club to his liking.
West Ham and Leicester City are also assessing Jones as a potential option as they strive to improve their defences as they push for potential European qualification.
Bruce being in communication with Carrick to gain a better understanding of Jones’ physical and mental state is a good sign to suggest the Newcastle boss wishes to bring the 2016/17 Europa League winner to St. James’ Park this winter.
Jones would be arriving massively lacking in match fitness having been out injured for most of the year, but could prove to be Bruce’s ideal partner for Lascelles and Federico Fernandez with Fabian Schar and Ciaran Clark unable to lock down a regular role for themselves.
Clark faced a lengthy spell out of action, himself, after breaking his ankle in February, only returning for Carabao Cup action in September before making his Premier League season debut last month to replace Schar in the line-up.
Clark now has the chance to lock down a place in the XI after Lascelles missed the 2-0 win at Crystal Palace with a knee injury sustained against Chelsea, but failing to impress in the coming weeks will convince Bruce that he needs a player like Jones who Solskjaer believed was “entering into his prime years” when handed a new contract last year.
Arsenal icon Martin Keown also believes Jones is still a good player, just one that needs a change of scenery to get his career back on track.
“I don’t know how much help he’s getting, but he needs it. If they haven’t got a defensive coach, they need to get one, get in his ear and help him,” he told talkSPORT. “There’s got to be a decent player in there still, but somebody has got to help him. He’s at a crossroads in his career.”
Could St. James’ Park be the place Jones gets his career back on track? It wouldn’t be entirely out of the realms of possibility for Bruce to look fondly on a cheap deal with Manchester United open to offloading the £75,000-a-week outcast.