Cape Town - Manchester United defender Chris Smalling has heaped praise on team-mate Daley Blind, saying he's always been a top player.
Blind joined the Red Devils from Ajax Amsterdam in a 18.3 million euro transfer in 2014. Since then, the midfielder has been a regular member in Louis Van Gaal's starting line-up, making over 54 Premier League appearances.
The 26-year-old showcased his versatility with a series of outstanding performances in defence this season, following injuries to Phil Jones, Antonio Valencia, Ashley Young and Marcos Rojo, which limited United's defensive options.
Smalling believes the best is yet to come from the Dutchman, though, adding that he's enjoyed playing alongside such an influential player.
"I think he deserves more plaudits and I think he will get them if he carries on playing the way he is playing," Smalling told the Manchester Evening News.
"Everyone is sitting up and taking note that Daley is one of the mainstays of this team and he is keeping us ticking.
"He is a joy to play alongside. It is a good partnership. We know we can rely on each other."
The England centre-back says that they fully trust each other when it comes to their partnership in defence.