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Nov 21, 2012

Jones relishes comeback

Phil Jones relished his Manchester United comeback after almost six months on the sidelines, even though it ended in a 1-0 defeat to Galatasaray.

• Blog: Young and Defenceless

The defender, 20, was making his first appearance since England's victory over Norway in May, following what he described a "pretty wretched" time.

Jones had a back injury and then required knee surgery, which delayed his first appearance of the season but he enjoyed his night in Turkey as a weakened United team, with ten players either injured or rested, suffered a first setback in Europe this season.

"I'm delighted to get through the 90 minutes," he said. "I'm buzzing about that. It's been difficult. I've had my downs. I picked up a few niggles and had surgery on my knee so I've had a pretty wretched four or five months.

"I've been in the gym every day and it's not easy. I had to concentrate on getting myself fit and worked quite hard to get to where I am now so I'm just delighted to be back. I'll feel stiff on Wednesday but everything is fine.

"Hopefully I can push on now, get back in the team and prove why I should be here."

Jones, speaking to MUTV and Sky Sports, said both the surface and the sounds of the Ali Sami Yen Stadium made it a difficult occasion.

"It wasn't the best of pitches to play on," he added. "It was quite heavy on the legs. It's the best [atmosphere] I've ever played in. From start to finish I couldn't hear the keeper. I couldn't pass messages on. It was very difficult but the same for both teams."

Goalkeeper Anders Lindegaard agreed about the atmosphere and praised Jones for his performance on his return.

"I think Phil did well," he told MUTV. "He showed he's on the way back and he's an important player for us. He's going to be very important in the next couple of months when we have plenty of games coming up.

"It was quite a special atmosphere to play in. Very hectic, very noisy and loud. You can't really communicate on the field by yelling and talking. You need to be more visual. At times, obviously it was very difficult for me."

Darren Fletcher, who was one of the senior figures in a youthful United team, felt the game will benefit the inexperienced players.

Nick Powell, 18, made his Champions League debut, summer signing Alexander Buttner played his second European game for the club and striker Federico Macheda made his second appearance of the season as a substitute.

Fletcher told Sky Sports: "All the young players who played did fantastic, and playing in an atmosphere like this will only stand them in good stead for the future.

"In difficult conditions - the pitch wasn't great and it was an intimidating atmosphere - I thought we did extremely well, especially in the first half."

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