Jones injury boost for United

United boss Sir Alex Ferguson has admitted he “feared the worst”

when the youngster had to be replaced at Craven Cottage. Jones has

been given the all-clear to face Wigan on Boxing Day after X-rays

revealed the teenager did not suffer a broken cheekbone when he was

caught by Clint Dempsey in the first-half in midweek. It is a

welcome piece of good news for United, who have been ravaged by

injury in recent weeks and who will be missing Ashley Young with a

knee injury for an extended spell. However, Ferguson admitted his

concern when he first noted Jones’ condition. “We feared the

worst,” he said. “At the time, it looked like a real sore one. “He

had lost his vision for that period when he came back on the field.

Thankfully it is good news. “He has got a bit of swelling in his

jaw but he should be okay for Monday.” Jones initially tried to

continue but his eventual departure heralded Young’s ill-fated

arrival. “He has got a knee injury that will keep him out for a few

weeks,” said Ferguson. “He was tripped and wasn’t in position to go

into the next tackle. “He was half falling at the time and got a

real clump. “It wasn’t a bad tackle. It was just hard.” Young joins

an extensive casualty list that is easing slightly with the

recovery of Brazilian full-back Rafael from a hamstring injury but

not as quickly as Ferguson would have hoped at this congested phase

of the season. Michael Owen (thigh), Tom Cleverley (ankle) and

Anderson (knee) have all been absent for a number of weeks and show

no immediate sign of a return. “It is not great news about the

other ones,” said Ferguson. “Michael, Tom and Anderson are still on

the sick list. “It is not an easy spell for us but we have to get

through it.” In addition, Rio Ferdinand is set to miss Monday’s

game after picking up a foot injury in training. Despite their

injury concerns, United have won seven of their past eight Premier

League matches since their 6-1 humbling at home to Manchester City

to leave them two points adrift of their cross-town rivals.

Ferguson is determined to maintain that run during a busy festive

programme, adding: “It is time to keep our foot on the pedal.” The

Scot would not be drawn on the subject of Luis Suarez’s ban after

the Liverpool striker was this week suspended for eight games by

the Football Association for using insulting words towards United

defender Patrice Evra – including reference to his colour – at

Anfield in October. “I have nothing to say about that at all,” he

said.