Date: 10th December 2011 at 1:18am
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With Nemanja Vidic sidelined until next season, Manchester United find themselves in a real lurch.

Rio Ferdinand when fit is likely to start but the question remains who will partner him?

Sir Alex has a bevy of young talent to choose from with Chris Smalling, Phil Jones and Jonny Evans in the team.

I personally would opt for Chris Smalling but more knowledgable people than I, namely former Arsenal striker Alan Smith, feel it is time for Phil Jones to begin playing at center back.

Jones has appeared there for United this season already but has also appeared at right back as well as in midfield. And speaking in The Telegraph, Smith feels Sir Alex would do well to slot Jones in beside Ferdinand in Vidic’s absence:

“Out for the rest of the season, the United captain’s place needs adequately filling now if United are to keep tabs on the team excelling across town.

“So what will Ferguson do? Does he plump for Phil Jones, Jonny Evans or Chris Smalling as a partner for Rio Ferdinand?

“An interesting one, this, particularly with regard to Jones who, in his first few months at United, has been used all over. That’s great in one way as a steep learning curve, but at the same time it is asking a lot of one so young.

“Maybe it’s time now to give Jones a good run in central defence; let him build an understanding with Ferdinand, let him express himself where he feels most comfortable.

“There aren’t many better, after all, in bursting from deep to carry the ball forward with pace and intelligence. Jones offers you that. And in central defence he can offer a lot more.”