Quick links

Manchester United

United and England defender determined to earn central defensive role

The former Fulham man is eager to settle in his favoured role for club and country.

One of Manchester United's players is coming out of the World Cup with a strong point to prove about how he wants to be playing his football.

Long used as a versatile utility player, Chris Smalling, and fellow young Englishman Phil Jones have found themselves deployed in all manner of positions during their time at Old Trafford.

But after England's dire draw with Costa Rica saw the end of their World Cup adventure, Smalling was quick to let the media know that he was eager to claim a regular starting role as a central defender back at United and for his country.

The 24-year-old made his World Cup debut in the game and felt he acquitted himself well alongside Gary Cahill in keeping the Group D winners from finding the net.

"It's the end of the season so obviously we will go on a break and next season I will look to really kick on and cement my position," Smalling said after the game.

"Roy knows that I am a centre-back and I really want to cement it and be that number one.

"I feel that if I get my chance like I did today, I can go out there and deliver.

"Hopefully if I can go back to my club in the summer and really cement it, I can hopefully cement it for England as well. I am ready for this chance and it is about time I took it."

Smalling has played 12 times for England, at both right back and centre back, and made more appearances during his club season last year than he has at any other point in his career.

Nevertheless, he will have to convince incoming boss Louis van Gaal that he is worthy of a place in his squad, as the club are continuously linked with defensive reinforcements now Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic have both departed.

In recent weeks Thomas Vermaelen has been mentioned as a genuine option for United, with Smalling even discussed as a possible makeweight in the deal.

However, his comments above seem to indicate a real willingness to stay at United, and the Englishman will be hoping Van Gaal wants that very same thing.

Register for MANCHESTER UNITED team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch