sport

Jones wants Smalling axis

Phil Jones believes he and Chris Smalling can form a new partnership at the heart of Manchester United's defence next season.

With captain Nemanja Vidic ready to exit Old Trafford for Inter Milan and Rio Ferdinand's contract expiring at the end of the season, manager David Moyes is expected to be in the market for defensive reinforcements.

England defender Jones accepts that there will be additions to the squad as the fading champions look to return to former glories after a disappointing season, but believes he and Smalling can provide one solution.

"I've played with Chris for three or four years in the England Under-21s and also United, and we have a really good understanding," Jones said.

"We complement each other well and when you look at other central-defender partnerships and how they grow and build, they get better by playing together.

"You make mistakes along the way - everyone does - but the more you play together and understand each other the better the partnership gets.

"Hopefully that can happen and hopefully we have shown the manager that we are ready for the challenge.

"It's a cliche, but, in a squad like Manchester United, it's healthy to have competition.

"It keeps you on your toes and ready, training hard every day and wanting it even more.

"Whoever we bring in, I'm sure me and Chris will always be knocking on the door."