Wayne Rooney has refused to be drawn on Derby’s links to Phil Jones, with the Manchester United legend keeping his cards close to his chest when it comes to a reported raid on the ranks at Old Trafford.
An experienced England international defender is expected to be on the move during the January transfer window.
Jones has slipped out of sight and mind in Manchester, with the 28-year-old tumbling down the pecking order at United under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
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Injuries have done little to aid his cause, but a versatile operator has been overlooked even when fully fit.
Jones’ last outing for the Red Devils came way back in January, when he figured in an FA Cup clash with Tranmere.
He has not been seen since and appears to have little hope of forcing his way back into Solskjaer’s plans.
Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof remain the go-to centre-half pairing for United, with Eric Bailly filling back-up duty.
Axel Tuanzebe is another that has risen above Jones, leaving the 2012-13 Premier League title winner with little choice but to seek regular game time elsewhere.
It has been suggested that Rooney, who is overseeing matters at Championship side Derby following the dismissal of Phillip Cocu, would be keen on a reunion with his former United and England colleague.
The Red Devils’ all-time leading goalscorer has played alongside Jones on 143 occasions in the past and knows the qualities that a proven performer could offer to his side at Pride Park.
Rooney is, however, reluctant to be drawn on supposed interest.
He told reporters when quizzed on the rumours: “Phil Jones is a Manchester United player and it is not my job to really speak on him.”
While Rooney is eager to steer clear of speculation for now, Red Devils boss Solskjaer has previously stated that Jones should be ready to kick-start his career around the turn of the year.
He said back in October: “Phil has been injured and had an operation and working really hard to be back, hopefully he'll get fit during December.
“That was a natural thing when you're injured, you can't be in the squad can you, but he's working really diligently and he’ll be coming back soon.”
Derby could do with adding Jones’ vast experience to their ranks, as they sit 22nd in the second tier, but interest from West Ham, Newcastle and Leicester has also been mooted in a man with 27 England caps to his name.