Former Arsenal and England defender Martin Keown has launched a surprise attack on Manchester United duo Chris Smalling and Phil Jones, who he claims are not worthy of their places in the Three Lions squad.
Keown went as far as to describe the pair’s performances for their club side as ‘dissapointing’, before warning that they won’t get many more chances to prove that they deserve to keep their spots for both United and England.
As the Daily Star explains, both players have featured heavily at Old Trafford this season, but are yet to truly live up to the potential they showed prior to moving to the club in 2010 and 2011 respectively.
At the time, they were tipped as England’s future centre-back pairing, but neither have been able to force themselves into Roy Hodgson’s team on a regular basis, with the more experienced Gary Cahill and Phil Jagielka still preferred.
Keown, who was quoted by the Star, did concede that Smalling and Jones had shown more encouraging signs during the wins over Tottenham and Liverpool, but insisted that they still have a long way to go.
“Phil Jones and Chris Smalling are not really training on, they’re a disappointment at the moment,” he said.
“They’ve both looked nervous, particularly in the FA Cup game against Arsenal. Both looked like they needed an arm around them and I’m not sure they were getting that from their manager.
“Cahill and Jagielka are the obvious partnership. You are not going to get too many chances to stake that claim for England. It’s now in Jones and Smalling’s hands.”