With recent injuries to first choice centre back pairing of Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand, many commentators have questioned the depth of Manchester United’s squad, suggesting that the lack of otherwise recognised central defenders could be a hindrance to their silverware ambitions this season.
However, whilst these unfortunate injuries could prove to be detrimental to United’s hopes, it could certainly bolster England’s come the summer. Barring the inclusion of Jonny Evans (given several lacklustre performances as stand-in this seasion, he shouldn’t warrant a place), this has opened the door for both Chris Smalling and Phil Jones. Before the season started, both were seen as little more than bit part players; both had promising futures but weren’t expected to make a real impact immediately. They now have a fantastic opportunity to do just that.
Hopefully this will prevent one of the biggest problems I have noticed this season; that of playing players, Jones especially, out of position. Whilst Jones in particular has been in dazzling form whether he has been playing in a central midfield berth, centre back or right back, it is important for Fergie to decide where he sees his strongest position in the future. Once this is identified, it is integral to his development as a footballer that he gets some minutes in his favoured role. His versatility is certainly impressive, but he needs to develop fully. This may be less a problem for Chris Smalling, who has been largely employed at right back, as he may been seen as the replacement in years to come for that awful new Sky Sports pundit.