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'Future' is Smalling and Jones

MANCHESTER UNITED manager David Moyes thinks Chris Smalling and Phil Jones could be England's first-choice centre-back pairing for many years to come.

United returned to winning ways on Saturday with a 3-0 win over West Brom.

With most of the focus being on Robin van Persie's possible sending-off, Pepe Mel's future, and United's return to form, one fact slipped under the radar.

Saturday was the first time Smalling and Jones had started together at centre-back in the Premier League even though they have both been at the club for almost three years.

Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic were the last established centre-back pairing at the club, but with both players nearing the end of their United careers, an opportunity has opened up for Smalling and Jones to stake a claim for the available positions.

And it is not just United who can prosper, according to Moyes.


"I think the future will probably be with Jones and Smalling as the two future England centre-backs," the Manchester United manager said.

"The two boys today could easily be the two centre-backs for England in the World Cup."

Phil Jagielka and Gary Cahill remain Roy Hodgson's first-choice pairing for the World Cup, but the England manager is a fan of Smalling and gave the former Fulham man his 10th cap against Denmark last week.

Jones and Smalling dealt well with the threat posed by Albion's striker Victor Anichebe and Moyes will give the two a chance to prove they can succeed Vidic, who is off to Inter Milan, and Ferdinand, who is out of contract at the end of the season. He said: "I will be continuing to use Vidic and Rio and Jonny Evans. We know Vida (Vidic) is moving on so we have to take the chance to look at what the younger ones are capable of."