Pearce: Smalling and Jones will be top defenders

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England Under-21s coach Stuart Pearce believes young stars Chris Smalling and Phil Jones will be the perfect defensive team at Manchester United.

“They’ve got a steely determination between the two of them,’’ Pearce said of the two wonderkids.

“They want to defend, they want to get hit with the ball, they’re happy to get hit with the ball to keep it out the back of the net.

"We look at the likes of Nemanja Vidic and see how he enjoys defending. People don’t like playing against him. These two have got a bit of that in them as well.”

The deal with Jones was a slight surprise to some, with Manchester United boasting two top defenders in Vidic and Rio Ferdinand.

But while there are concerns that the England Under-21s star won’t get much game time this season, Pearce argues that Sir Alex Ferguson will give him his chance when the time’s right.

“If you look at the [33] appearances Smalling has had, Alex isn’t afraid to put the young players in and say 'go on then – let’s see what you can do,” Pearce said.

“I went to a Champions League semi-final [when Manchester United face Schalke] and watched Smalling playing.

"If you had said to me last summer 'would he get the opportunity to play as many games as he has and as many high-profile matches?’ I would’ve said 'no chance’.

“So as long as the bigger clubs are prepared to take these youngsters and filter them into the side and give them their head and let them play, I think certainly in United’s case, [Ferguson] has a reputation for doing that.”

The signing of Jones, and targeting of England international Ashley Young, signals Ferguson’s movement towards signing young English players.

The move is an interesting one, and with Ferguson hinting that he hopes to emulate Barcelona, who have numerous members of the Spanish team in their side, one could argue that the Manchester United manager is looking to sign players who will have maximum unity, playing for their club and country together.

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Chris Smalling
Phil Jones
Premier League
Manchester United

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