Former Manchester United captain and midfield linchpin Roy Keane has hit-out at England’s Red Devils pairing of Phil Jones and Chris Smalling – who he feels are falling by the wayside.
The 42-year-old has never been afraid of speaking his mind and in his latest rant the Irishman has condemned Jones and Smalling for failing to take advantage of their opportunities at Old Trafford.
The United pair were both included in Roy Hodgson’s 23-man Three Lions squad but neither have been able to cement their place in the Reds starting 11.
“I don’t think Roy Hodgson had great options in that position,” said Keane, “They’ve (Jones and Smalling) certainly not had great seasons.
“Roy’s obviously seen enough of them to go, but they won’t be going into the World Cup in great form.
“If one of them had been left out I don’t think it would have been a big shock. They better enjoy it while they are over there.”
Since Jones £16.5million switch from Blackburn Rovers he has failed to claim a regular place in the United line-up and has often been used as the clubs utility man – playing at centre-back, right-back and even central midfield.
Smalling has also failed to establish himself as a mainstay in the United team since his arrival from Fulham in 2010, despite being blessed with all the attributes to be a great defender.
“We were told two or three years ago Jones was going to be the new Duncan Edwards,” Keane added.
“I’ve watched United live nine or ten times this year and they have been none of those things.
“If anything I think they have gone backwards. You say you have to give players a chance to mature but also you’ve got players who you say we’ve given you a chance and you’re not taking it.”
The ITV pundit was adamant that it is essential that both players improve if United are to regain their position back at the top of the Premier League.
Keane also brought into question how injury prone Jones has become since making his move to Old Trafford.
“They need to do a lot better if they want to cement their place at United and United to win trophies,” he added.
“Jones needs to toughen up. Every time I see him he is getting carried off. He’s got to toughen up – he’s playing for United.”
Keane, meanwhile, feels Michael Carrick deserved to miss on the 23-man squad for Brazil after an underwhelming season.
“I bet you he wasn’t shocked he was left out,” he said.
“You can’t fall back on what players did two years ago because if you are not performing or if there is competition in the same position then that is the nature of the beast. You are going to be left out.”
Main image courtesy of ITV via YouTube, with thanks.