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Roy Hodgson stands by Smalling

last updated Tuesday 29th December 2009, 11:18 AM
Chris Smalling
Chris Smalling
Chris Smalling
Fulham defender Chris Smalling had a full Premier League debut to forget after his own goal gave Chelsea all three points.

But Cottages boss Roy Hodgson preferred to absolve the 20-year-old of all blame.

Chelsea were given a shock as early as the fourth minute when Zoltan Gera gave Fulham an unexpected lead. Chelsea, who have had a run of unimpressive results, equalised thanks to the departing Didier Drogba in the 73rd minute before Smalling unwittingly turned a cross into his own goal just 120 seconds later.

Hodgson insisted the centre-back was helpless in the incident and thought the he did well to cover for the injured Brede Hangeland.

"He could do nothing about it. I thought his performance was really outstanding, he had a magnificent game.

"The own goal, which will go down to his name, was one of those goals that is like when the ball hits the post and rebounds off goalkeepers. There is not much you can do."

Hodgson added: "The other positives were things I'm beginning to expect from this team. They do not let me down, they do not let the club down and they do it week after week.

"No matter who the opponent, we work very hard, keep a good shape and keep our discipline.

"For Chris Smalling to be thrown in at the deep end, with little notice and no chance to work with him, I thought he did exceptionally well."

Source BBCSport
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