The penny still hasn't dropped for Chris Smalling, Jonny Evans and Phil Jones, according to former Manchester United captain Gary Neville.
The Sky Sports pundit has made it clear that he expects more from the trio, who have suffered something of an injury crisis between them this season.
There has been a clear lack of stability in the centre of the Manchester United defence due to injuries and suspension, which has led Louis van Gaal to shift formation which has no doubt adding to the uncertainty for United's back-line.
Neville has hope for United's defenders
Neville told United publication Stretty News: "There is no doubt that Jones, Smalling and Shaw have talent but they need experience, maturity and injuries to stay clear and they will fly.”
Neville also made it clear that he feels there is still hope for the three stuttering central defenders when he stated "with the likes of Smalling, Jones and Evans we still have great hopes for that penny to drop".
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There has been a lot of speculation regarding replacements for the incumbent defenders at Old Trafford, with numerous reports linking the likes of Mats Hummels and Raphael Varane to the club.
In addition to that, Guillem Balague reported that United had had a €35 million bid rejected for Nicolás Otamendi.
Neville calls for patience
However, Neville has called for patience with the United defenders making reference to how long it took the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Darren Fletcher to shine at Old Trafford.
Neville stated: “Cristiano took two or three seasons and the penny dropped" and "if you remember for many years we had players that potentially had it. Darren Fletcher all of a sudden became the most important person in the team for a few seasons. It was like ‘wow, here we go, he’s a player now".
Neville's judgement should not be taken lightly despite the numerous chances Evans, Smalling and Jones have had up until now.
It was Neville who broke into the United side in the early 90s due to the patience of Sir Alex Ferguson and forged a hugely successful career at Old Trafford.
It's now up to the trio to show they have what it takes to be a Manchester United player and with many expecting a clear out in the summer, it looks as though Evans, Jones and Smalling have until May to show Van Gaal that they are capable of being a Manchester United centre-back in the long term.
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