February 11, 2011

Man Utd News: Smalling set for derby start

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has confirmed that Chris Smalling will start alongside captain Nemanja Vidic in central defence for the visit of Manchester City on Saturday. 

Ferdinand has not recovered from the calf injury he sustained in the warm-up ahead of United's defeat at Wolves last week. Evans played in that game but missed Northern Ireland's loss to Scotland on Wednesday with an ankle injury and is still sidelined. 

Smalling, a £10million signing from Fulham in the summer, has performed admirably in his performances for United so far this season but has yet to face a stern test of his defensive capabilities. A cool and calm defender, much like Ferdinand, Smalling has so far mainly showed his passing and aerial ability without having to over-exert himself with tackling and blocking. The attacking talent at City’s disposal should give a solid barometer for his ability to deal with the pressure of such a high-octane contest. Nonetheless, his form was rewarded with a first call-up to the senior national team for the friendly with France in November, although you suspect that manager Fabio Capello was more interested in taking a first-hand look at Smalling than using him on the pitch.

In fact, Smalling’s possible entry into the big time is similar to that of Evans’. The man from Belfast was thrown into the action for his league debut against Chelsea and performed brilliantly, leading to him replacing Wes Brown as third choice centre back and creating a burgeoning reputation for himself. If picked on Saturday and in the subsequent weeks, Smalling will be hoping for a similarly successful run in the team until his mentor Ferdinand returns. 

Download New Smalling Wallpaper