Manchester United: Chris Smalling, Phil Jones Give United Huge Defensive Boost

Dan TalintyreSenior Analyst IIOctober 30, 2012

SUNDERLAND, ENGLAND - MAY 13:  Phil Jones of Manchester United reacts during the Barclays Premier League match between Sunderland and Manchester United at Stadium of Light on May 13, 2012 in Sunderland, England.  (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
Clive Mason/Getty Images

Manchester United look set to receive a huge boost defensively with the news that Chris Smalling and Phil Jones are rapidly closing in on their comebacks from injury.

Both Smalling and Jones are yet to feature for the Red Devils this season after different injuries have kept them out of the first team but look likely to return sometime over the next two weeks, according to comments made by manager Sir Alex Ferguson.

Per Sky Sports:

We will try to push Chris [Smalling] on quickly. I don't think he will make Wednesday's game [against Chelsea] but I am sure that he will be ready for the following week [against Sporting Braga].

There was hope that both he and Phil [Jones] would be back for this busy schedule. Phil will start football training next Monday—he still has some running to do. The good news is that they are not far away.

United face three all-important fixtures across a myriad of competitions in the next week or so, and the addition of defensive depth and rotation could well go a long way towards their success in those respective competitions this season.

The Red Devils play Chelsea in the Capital One Cup on Wednesday for a place in the quarterfinals and then play host to Arsenal in the Premier League on the weekend—a fixture that the Manchester club won 8-2 last season.

They will then travel to Sporting Braga in the UEFA Champions League, knowing that a win would give them qualification through to the knockout stages of the tournament.

With Nemanja Vidic still out until at least December (according to Goal), the return of Smalling and Jones could be huge for a Red Devils squad that has struggled defensively this season—adding depth, talent and giving much-needed rest to players that haven't had good time off this year.

The likes of Rafael da Silva and Rio Ferdinand in particular have spent a great deal of time this season without adequate rest, and Sir Alex Ferguson would obviously like to allow both players time to rest and prime themselves for United's title challenge again this season.

After all, depth is key to winning championships, and if the Red Devils want to contend for multiple titles across England and indeed Europe this season, they'll need as much defensive depth and strength as they can find.

The return of Smalling and Jones is a good start for United.


Are Manchester United strong enough defensively to win the title?

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