Smalling unfazed by United challenge

Published Jul. 24, 2010 2:23 p.m. ET

Former Fulham centre-back Chris Smalling has insisted he is not daunted by the challenge facing him after moving to Manchester United.

It has been a meteoric rise to success for the young centre-back, who was plucked from obscurity by Roy Hodgson two years ago to move to Craven Cottage from non-league Maidstone.

Despite not playing a great deal of games in his time for the Cottagers, Sir Alex Ferguson saw enough of the England Under-21 defender to pay out for his services, but Smalling claims he is unfazed by what lies ahead.

"The manager has told me that I'm going to be the part of the first team and that as and when I'm called upon I have to be ready," said Smalling, who is currently on United's pre-season tour of the USA.

"I'm happy about that and getting ready, which is what pre-season is all about.

"Obviously I've had since January to know about the move, get a few more games at Fulham and I'm really focused on what's ahead.

"When you see a young player like Jonny Evans play so many games for United last season and over the last few years, it's something to aim for."


Smalling is part of Ferguson's plans to blood a new crop of youngsters into the side to as he attempts to repeat the success of his class of 1992, where David Beckham, Paul Scholes, Nicky Butt and Gary and Phil Neville broke through to enormous success.

The current era of Smalling, Evans, Federico Macheda, Darron Gibson, Javier Hernandez and Fabio and Rafael Da Silva are all expected to be given chances this season, with Smalling relishing the prospect of them developing together.

"I'm just excited to be part of a bunch of players all trying to break through as a group," he added. "It's great just to be among that and hopefully we can all kick on. Hopefully I can get as many games as I can pre-season."