Smalling targets long-term partnership with Jones

Chris Smalling insists he and Phil Jones have the ability to become the central defensive partnership in the future of Manchester United, The Sunday Mirror reports.

During the 2-1 loss to Basle in the Champions League, which dumped them out of the competition, Smalling and Jones were guilty of lapses in concentration that cost their side. Former United captain Roy Keane gave a verbal battering to the two defenders, but Smalling believes they will grow into the club. Both England internationals have played at different positions with Smalling at right back and Phil Jones in central midfield.

Whilst the former Fulham defender is happy to play in the squad wherever he can, Smalling is looking to forge a partnership at the heart of the United defence with Jones. With Rio Ferdinand nearing the end of his career and Nemanja Vidic out for the season with a ruptured cruciate ligament, Smalling and Jones are looking to move into centre-half quickly.

Smalling said: ‘I do hopefully see us eventually playing in the centre of the defence. We’re both young and that’s where ideally we want to play. There’s a good bond between me and Phil. We get on really well. Playing in different positions, as we have been doing, is good experience for both of us. You have to be able to adapt. That’s important’.

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