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Jones wants to develop Smalling partnership

With 35-year-old Rio Ferdinand entering the twilight of his career and Nemanja Vidic leaving the club at the end of the season, Jones is hoping he and Smalling can stake their claim to be United's first choice at the heart of the defence for years to come.

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