Belfast Telegraph

Jones would relish Smalling link-up

Defender Phil Jones is confident he can form a solid partnership with Chris Smalling at the back for Manchester United if called upon to do so.

United boss Sir Alex Ferguson must decide who out of Jonny Evans, Jones and Smalling to play at centre-half over the coming weeks after first-choice pairing Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand sustained injuries in Sunday's 2-1 victory at West Brom.

Jones, who made his Barclays Premier League debut for the Red Devils from the bench in that game, has already linked up with Smalling for the England Under-21s, something he feels will set them in good stead should they deputise. He told manutd.com: "We've done really well together with England and kept quite a few clean sheets."

He added: "We communicate well and read each other's game, which is a good thing to have in a partnership at the back."

It would appear to be another promising omen for United that Jones has closely studied the way Vidic and Ferdinand play.

"They are brilliant defenders," Jones said. "I've always watched those two play together and tried to model my game on them and copy things they do."

Ferguson signed Jones from Blackburn this summer in a deal worth a reported £16.5million.

If the 19-year-old features in Monday's home clash with Tottenham it will be his first competitive appearance for United at Old Trafford - less than a year after he was part of a Rovers team thrashed 7-1 there last season.

He said: "I only played there once - in that 7-1 hammering. I was looking forward to it beforehand, and making sure I was fit.

"It's a fantastic stadium with a great atmosphere and I was playing against some fantastic players. It's even better now I'm playing with them."

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