David Moyes to promote from within in Nemanja Vidic’s absence

Phil Jones, Chris Smalling and Jonny Evans to get chance ‘to show what they are capable of’

Manchester United’s Phil Jones (right) and Jonny Evans (left) will hope to replace Nemanja Vidic. Photograph: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire

Manchester United’s Phil Jones (right) and Jonny Evans (left) will hope to replace Nemanja Vidic. Photograph: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire

Sat, Feb 8, 2014, 13:23

David Moyes is content to let his current crop of central defenders have first shot at filling the gap created by Nemanja Vidic’s decision to quit Manchester United at the end of the season.

Vidic has confirmed his intention to seek a fresh challenge when his contract expires in the summer.

With Rio Ferdinand virtually certain to be leaving Old Trafford as well, it means Moyes must plan for life without the two men who have been the cornerstone of the Red Devils’ defence for almost a decade.

Numerous big names are bound to be linked with a summer transfer.

However, in Jonny Evans, Phil Jones and Chris Smalling, Moyes already has players with a combined total of 384 United appearances to call upon, in addition to 49 international caps and six league titles.

And while some may question whether the trio have what it takes to fill such vast shoes, Moyes will give them the chance.

“People who know football will tell you centre-half is probably the toughest position,” said Moyes. “I even think it is harder to play centre-half than goalkeeper now.

“The movement and quality of the centre forwards means it is very difficult to play a young centre-half.

“We are trying to nurture one along and bring them into the team. Phil Jones, Chris Smalling, Jonny Evans are already here. We will give them an opportunity to show what they are capable of.”

In addition to a new anchor at the heart of his defence, Vidic’s statement means Moyes is also on the lookout for a new captain.

Although there are alternatives in the form of Darren Fletcher and Michael Carrick, the obvious choice - if he signs the contract extension United are discussing with him - would be Wayne Rooney.

Moyes is certain to give the matter some considerable thought given the importance of a role that has been held with some distinction by the likes of Bryan Robson, Bobby Charlton, Roy Keane and - from the Busby Babes era - Roger Byrne.

“Captain of this club is a really big job,” said Moyes. “It holds a massive responsibility. You have to be respected by your players and realise what the club stands for.

“Even without Vida we have always had that with Patrice Evra, Rio Ferdinand, Darren Fletcher and Wayne Rooney.”

Although it has cruelly been suggested Vidic is deserting a sinking ship, Moyes revealed it was a mutual decision to sever ties after over eight years’ service.

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