Smalling's old boss so proud
However Maidstone United's general manager, a former professional goalkeeper, believes the England Under-21 centre-back would have benefited further from another season with the Cottagers. Smalling, 20, set off on Tuesday for Chicago with the rest of Manchester United's 22-man squad at the start of their summer tour. It was the latest leg in a remarkable journey that has taken the player from non-league football to the top end of the Premier League inside two years. Smalling's move to United was confirmed in January and he ended the season by making 13 league appearances for Fulham. Williams, 67, who wore the colours of Portsmouth, Queens Park Rangers and West Brom among others, said: "I had a meeting with Alex at Old Trafford and he felt he had got a little gem in Chris. "He said he was someone with a few rough edges that needed to be smoothed off. I am sure Manchester United have the knowledge and expertise to polish him as a player." Smalling arrived at Maidstone after leaving Millwall's academy and quickly began to realise his potential. Williams said: "He needed the experience of playing at a different standard. He did that and has now gone through this rapid movement along the pathway. "I have been in the game since I was 15 and seen many players come through. If I am being honest I would have liked Chris to have played 40-50 league games for Fulham before making a move. "I feel that would have done him a power of good. He has not played enough Premier League football and United will have to be patient with him." Smalling looks assured of a place in the United team at some stage of their five-match tour with Rio Ferdinand injured and Nemanja Vidic on holiday after playing for Serbia in the World Cup. Williams believes Smalling has a number of admirable qualities as a player and as a person. He said: "Chris has a good physique, is very sharp across the ground and a good reader of the game with a good touch. "Not only that, he is very intelligent boy, a nice lad and quick learner. I know he is excited about the challenge." United boss Ferguson and his players posed for photographs at Manchester Airport with supporters before departing for their training base. They play Neil Lennon's Celtic in Toronto on Friday before taking on Philadelphia Union at Lincoln Financial Field on July 21, the Kansas City Wizards at Arrowhead Stadium on July 25 and the MLS All-Stars in Houston on July 28. United then travel to Guadalajara to play Chivas - the former club of another new signing, Javier Hernandez, who will have joined up with the squad by then following his participation for Mexico in the World Cup. Portugal forward Nani was among the 22-man squad despite missing the World Cup due to a broken collarbone. Club captain Gary Neville is staying at United's Carrington training base due to a calf problem, along with Rio Ferdinand (knee), Michael Owen (hamstring), Antonio Valencia (ankle) and Anderson (knee). Another player not taking part is midfielder Owen Hargreaves, who has been hampered by a series of knee problems and will miss the start of the season after suffering another setback.