Manchester United defender Chris Smalling believes his central defensive partnership with Phil Jones can fill the void left by the departures of Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand.
The Serbian and English duos partnership was one of the best central defensive pairing in England in recent times, and they have a record to prove it as they won 23 major trophies between them at Old Trafford.
The Red Devils have failed to replace the duo, but Smalling feels that he can build a similar partnership with Jones at the heart of United's defence.
Despite the presence of four central defenders in Marcos Rojo, Smalling, Jones and Jonny Evans, who have all been given a chance last season, Louis van Gaal has made strengthening his backline a priority this summer.
The Old Trafford club have been linked with moves for Mats Hummels and Joao Miranda as the manager looks to spend big yet again this summer to build a squad to challenge for the Premier League title.
However, the England international, who recently signed a new contract with the club, feels that after playing together this season, he can build on his partnership with Jones in the upcoming campaign and fill the void left by Vidic and Ferdinand at the club.
"I think we have," Smalling said, as quoted by the Manchester Evening News.
"It's one where it just builds over time and we've had our chance this season and now it is all about building on that next season," the Three Lions defender explained.
"Considering the outgoings at centre back, it was a chance where players had to step in. Luckily I've been one of those who has had a good run - especially in the second half of the season."
The 25-year-old defender is delighted to been given the opportunity to regularly play in his preferred centre-back position, after previously being played out of position at right-back for club and country.
"That's what I have always wanted to do. Obviously at certain times you have to do a job for the team, but this season Roy Hodgson and Louis Van Gaal have kept me at centre half. That's where I want to be so I'm happy," Smalling added.