Monday 20 November 2017

Injury ends Jones' Arsenal dreams

Mark Ogden

Blackburn Rovers defender Phil Jones is set to miss out on a £10m move to Arsenal next month after being ruled out for up to four months following knee surgery.

Jones (18) underwent a cartilage operation on Monday after injuring his knee during Saturday's 1-1 draw with West Ham at Ewood Park and is not expected to play again until March at the earliest.

The England U-21 international was the subject of a £10m offer from Arsenal during the August transfer window, which was swiftly rejected by Blackburn.

It is understood that the club's new owners are open-minded about renewed interest in the centre-half.

Chelsea have also closely monitored Jones' progress, but Arsenal's interest stretches back almost 12 months, with manager Arsene Wenger identifying the him as a target after Manchester United beat the Gunners to the signature of Fulham defender Chris Smalling last January.

Recently sacked Blackburn manager Sam Allardyce had billed Jones as a potential England defender before he narrowly missed out on selection for Fabio Capello's senior squad for the friendly against France last month.

Despite the setback, Jones has been told that he can expect to play again this season, having initially feared that the problem would keep him sidelined until the summer.

Blackburn's club doctor Phil Batty said: "Phil had keyhole surgery yesterday to repair the tear to his cartilage. The operation went successfully. The rest of the knee looks fine and he'll now begin his rehab, which should be three to four months."

Meanwhile, Rovers caretaker manager Steve Kean has been told that he will remain in his post until March at the earliest by Venky's, the Indian poultry company which now owns the club.

Venky's spokesperson Anuradha Desai said: "The next decision is a big decision to make and we want to take our time to make sure we make the right decision.

"There is no way we are going to hurry; maybe we will make a call in March, but if Steve Kean does well before that he will have put himself in a good position to continue.

"Steve will have control over the signings in January and, although he will have to discuss things with the board, he will have the final say.

"There is more than £5m available to him.

"We do not have any exclusive agreement with (advisors) Kentaro. They are one of the groups who are consulting us but they are not the only one.

"We have a lot of connections in South America and Europe and have friends in the UK.

"Kentaro might do one or two things for us but there is no exclusive agreement. I understand the concern because of the changes, but I would ask the supporters to give us some time and things will become clear." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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