- World Cup
'United turmoil hurt Jones and Smalling'
England manager Roy Hodgson believes Manchester United's struggles affected the form of Phil Jones and Chris Smalling this season.
United finished seventh in their first season without Sir Alex Ferguson at the helm, their worst placing since the 1989-90 campaign, with his successor David Moyes being sacked after only 10 months in the role.
Louis van Gaal will take over the reins at Old Trafford for next season once he has completed managing the Netherlands at the World Cup.
And Hodgson has indicated that inconsist team selections under Moyes, rather than a lack of ability from his England defenders, played a significant part in the pair under performing.
"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," Hogdson said.
Former United player Roy Keane had criticised the pair, saying Jones and Smalling had both "gone backwards" and claiming Jones needed to "toughen up".
But Hodgson believes Jones and Smalling have earned their places in England's World Cup squad. He said: "As far as I am concerned they are England players.
"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.
"I don't think he's ever let down the nation, whether he has played centre-back or right-back. In my opinion, they fully justify their selection."