By Azania Post Reporter
Manchester United Manager Jose Mourinho is planning to make some change in his side’s defense in the summer, with centre backs Chris Smalling and Phil Jones set to be sold.
The United boss will be looking to sign a new centre back, with Smalling set go out of the club and Jones also under serious threat.
Mourinho is understood to have had misgivings about the pair even before Sunday’s shambolic 1-0 defeat at Newcastle, which has dragged his second-placed team backwards into a battle with Liverpool, Tottenham, and Chelsea over finishing in the top four.
St. James’ Park defeat laid bare United’s vulnerability at the back – even though they have the best defensive record in the Premier League.
United have been linked with a £50m summer signing for Leicester defender Harry Maguire, and France and Real Madrid centre-half Raphael Verane.
Old Trafford boss Mourinho has been without his most accomplished centre-half, Eric Bailly, for the past three months as the Ivory Coast international recovers from ankle surgery.
Bailly is due back at the end of this month, with fellow defenders Marcos Rojo and Victor Lindelof both now in contention for a recall — starting with Saturday’s FA Cup tie at Huddersfield — and Smalling and Jones set to be dropped.
Smalling dived to concede a free-kick which led to Newcastle’s winner and was also lucky not to give away a penalty, while Jones - who scored an own goal in the 2-0 defeat away to Tottenham 11 days earlier - was also found wanting as the Reds slumped to a second defeat in three games.
The pair both signed new deals in 2015, keeping them at Old Trafford until 2019, but talks have yet to take place over contract extensions for the duo and Smalling faces being offloaded in the summer.
Although Lindelof, signed from Benfica for £35m last July, has yet to establish himself after a shaky start in English football Mourinho is ready to keep faith with him. Rojo is set to pen a new contract.
Former United defender Phil Neville branded Smalling and Jones a “disaster” at the weekend.
“They’ve got the best defensive record because they have the best goalkeeper in the world in David De Gea, and Nemanja Matic out in front who protects them really well,” he said.
“But the last two away games, Smalling and Jones have been a disaster.”