A makeshift back four, which included Antonio Valencia and Michael Carrick, and later Patrice Evra at centre-back alongside Carrick, put on an impressive display to repel any threat from the Latics on Boxing Day.
United's injury list has been mounting by the game of late, but Sir Alex hopes to be able to call upon the services of Jones and Smalling against Rovers folllowing further setbacks for Rio Ferdinand and Jonny Evans, who is likely to be out for two weeks with a calf injury.
"We've had a nightmare in the last few days. Phil Jones and Chris Smalling have both been ill, then Rio [Ferdinand] cried off on Sunday with a back injury and Jonny Evans came off injured at half-time [against Wigan]," the boss told MUTV.
"It does put you under a bit of pressure, but fortunately we had a good first half and got an early goal which helped us. And we managed to get through the game without any more injuries.
"I'm hoping that Smalling and Jones will have recovered from illness [for Saturday] as that will make a difference."