Phil Jones and Chris Smalling are expected to partner one another at centre-back as Manchester United take on Hull City in the EFL Cup, following an injury to Marcos Rojo and the absence of Eric Bailly – who is on international duty with Ivory Coast – and the latter is excited by the prospect.
Jones’ Man United career has been plagued by injuries since he arrived at the club from Blackburn Rovers in 2011.
However, the 24-year-old is determined to put his injury set-backs behind him and finally establish himself as a first-team player. Since making a comeback from his injury issues against Swansea City in November, he has gone on to nail down a berth in the starting XI.
Smalling, on the other hand, suffered a broken toe against Fenerbahce in October and has been on the sidelines for a major part of the first half of the season.
But the duo, who began playing alongside each other with the England U-21s, will likely link-up in centre-back tonight and Smalling is excited at the prospect of playing with Jones once again.
He said (via The Mirror):
“It’s true, we haven’t [played together much],
“We’ve trained a lot, but in matches, we haven’t played too much. But we’ve been together for a long time now and know each other’s game. I know him most out of all the centre-backs here. In the last couple of years, I’ve been able to stay injury-free and Phil’s had more hard luck.
“But now he’s had that and I’m happy for him because it’s great to see him out there. I always knew what he could do and it’s just a case of staying fit and showing everyone.”
Manchester United play host to Hull City tonight in their EFL Cup semi-final first leg clash and will be looking to make it nine wins in a row.