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England Under-21 manager praises Fulham defender Smalling

last updated Monday 16th November 2009, 8:02 AM
Chris Smalling
Chris Smalling
Chris Smalling
Fulham defender Chris Smalling was playing for non-league Maidstone last year but England Under-21 manager Stuart Pearce threw him into his starting line-up for the first time on Saturday and hailed the defender's 'meteoric' rise.

Pearce knows all about a 'meteoric rise' himself. When he was a player himself, he began his career at non-league Wealdstone before being signed by top-flight club Coventry - and then by legendary manager Brian Clough for Nottingham Forest.

Fulham defender Smalling, 19, performed well in the Under-21s important qualifier against Portugal at Wembley, won 1-0 by England. Smalling, a brilliant find by Fulham manager Roy Hodgson last summer, can now be expected to go on to bigger things according to Pearce.

Young Lions: England, with Smalling (number 6) observe a minutes silence before the match with Portugal

The England Under-21 boss said: 'Smalling and [Micah] Richards were quick and aggressive in their defending. I've heard great things about Smalling.

'Every day in training, he's impressed me. I've been thinking, "I've got to get this kid a game." Every day, he has impressed me. He certainly took his chance.

'With Hangeland and Hughes, Fulham have got two top defenders. But Smalling will improve. The experience he gets with us will help him.

'Not too long ago, he was a non-league player. He's the sort of kid who listens and he is very bright. It's a meteoric rise.'

Smalling, who signed a three-year contract with Fulham, made his debut for the club on the final day of last season - as a late substitute against Everton. In September, he played against CSKA Sofia in the Europa League.

Source Arindam Rej at Daily Mail
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