Smalling keen to seize big chance

The Cottagers’ defeat at Stamford Bridge left them with a

disappointing return of one point from two matches, having

dominated Tottenham on Boxing Day yet been held to a goalless draw.

They led against Chelsea with a fourth-minute goal by Zoltan Gera

but Drogba equalised before defender Smalling cruelly turned a shot

by Daniel Sturridge into his own net. Smalling was making his full

debut in place of the injured Brede Hangeland and did not deserve

to be held responsible as he was otherwise outstanding throughout.

“You can’t wish for a better place to make your first start,” said

the 20-year-old. “Obviously you look at their team sheet and it’s

full of world-class players and I think we more than held our own

and were unlucky in the end. “When you see you’re up against

Drogba, who is one of the best strikers in the world right now,

it’s what you play football for when you’re young. “I definitely

enjoyed it out there and I thought it was a good team performance

and hopefully there will be more to come for me in the league.

“I’ve played a few games in Europe and hopefully I can push on

now.”