Phil Jones believes young players have to be able to deal with 'toxic' abuse on social media 1 month ago

Phil Jones believes young players have to be able to deal with 'toxic' abuse on social media

"I think it's difficult for them not to read it"

Phil Jones believes that young players who are starting out in the game have to be mentally prepared to handle the "toxic" environment of social media.

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The Manchester United defender has been the subject of online abuse on multiple occasions in recent years following a difficult period at Old Trafford.

The 29-year-old - who has played over 200 times for the Red Devils - has not posted on Twitter since May 2017, with his latest Instagram post also coming in 2017.

Whilst his accounts remain active, Jones has admitted that he "stepped away" from social media a while ago because of how much abuse he was receiving.

"I stepped away from social media a long time ago but it's difficult because all your friends read it, your family read it and they support you, they want the best for you," Jones told the UTD podcast.

"They don't want to see their mate, their husband, their dad getting slaughtered all over the papers or all over the media, so it's tough because mentally I was going through a tough time and (then) to read stuff as well...

"It's difficult but it's something I've learned to deal with, especially over the time I've been at United and the more experience you get, the older you get, the better you learn to deal with those things."

The former Blackburn Rovers man also discussed how tough it is for younger players who are coming into the game, suggesting that it is difficult not to read what is written on social media.

"I suppose for young players coming into the game now, not just at Man United, but all over the world, it's a very hostile, toxic place to come into and they've got to be able to deal with that mentally as well as physically," said Jones.

"I look how the game's been developed over the last 10 years, and the way social media has developed and it's difficult to stay away from it. It's difficult not to get distracted by it (and) young players coming into the game, I think it's difficult for them not to read it.

"I know as a young player, that's the first thing you do: you come off the game and you want to see what people are saying about you and when you strip it all back in reality, it doesn't really matter what they say because they're not
picking the team."

The centre-back has not played a competitive fixture for United since he featured against Tranmere in an FA Cup tie in January 2020.

Jones has suffered from a knee problem in recent months, but has managed to work his way back to fitness - playing in a few behind-closed-doors friendlies, as well as being in the match day squad for the last month's Carabao Cup defeat to West Ham.

Despite his lack of minutes, the defender could get his chance to feature when United play Leicester on Saturday.

Following injuries to first choice centre-back pairing Harry Maguire - who is out with a calf injury - and Raphael Varane, who went off injured in France's Nations League final victory over Spain on Sunday, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is likely to turn to either Jones, Victor Lindelof or Eric Bailly,

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