Roy Keane's rather damning summation of the footballing abilities of United and England centre-half pairing - Jones and Smalling, has been challenged by Roy Hodgson.
Keane claimed that the duo will enter the world cup in poor form, going as far as to say that they had "gone backwards". Keane also said that Phil Jones needed to "toughen up" if we wanted to have any chance of living up to the lofty predictions made for his career.
Hodgson has supported the United duo in calm opposition to our Roy's criticisms.
I am very rarely taken aback by things people say and rarely moved or disturbed by it.
I work on the simple basis that everyone has an opinion. If you are a TV pundit you are required to give your opinion and I don’t expect everyone’s opinions to fall in with mine.
Hodgson accepts that it hasn't been the best year for Jones and Smalling, but maintains that they have been part of an unsettled back-line that was changed up far too regularly. He has selected them based on previous England performances, and singled out Smalling in particular as reliable option.
If you say to me: ‘Has it been a great year for Man United and have Jones and Smalling starred?’ Of course they haven’t because they [United] have used so many players and their back-line has changed virtually every week.
They have been England players throughout my two years and any games in particular that Smalling has played – because he has played more than Jones – he has certainly never let me down as a coach and I don’t think he’s ever let down the nation. In my opinion, they fully justify their selection.