VIDEO: Smalling determined to succeed
Tuesday, 10 August, 2010
New Manchester United signing Chris Smalling focused on Under-21s.
Click here to watch the video interview with Manchester United's Chris Smalling.
Fresh from picking up The FA Community Shield in his Manchester United debut, defender Chris Smalling heads into the new season with England's Under-21s determined to help them reach the European Championship next summer.
But first there's the small matter of two crucial qualifiers next month and tonight Stuart Pearce's team prepare for that double-header by taking on Uzbekistan at Bristol City's Ashton Gate.
Congratulations on starting your Manchester United career with a piece of silverware at Wembley…
It was a great occasion and pre-season has been really good so far. We came back on the first day of July, had the three weeks out in America and I managed to play the majority of the games, so it was a good end to pre-season.
What was it like playing at Wembley, was that the biggest crowd you’ve played in front of?
I’ve been lucky enough to play at Wembley before, obviously with the Under-21s last year, but it was a full crowd and my first Man United game in England. It was a great start so hopefully there’ll be many more to come.
How have you enjoyed your first few weeks at United with the likes of Sir Alex Ferguson and Nemanja Vidic helping you?
It’s been really exciting. When you join a new club you have to get to know everybody and I think I’ve surprised myself with how I’ve got on with all the players and I think the three weeks has definitely enabled me to do that. I’ve played five or six games over pre-season so hopefully that has bedded me into the squad. I’m really enjoying it.
Moving to a club like that do you feel the spotlight is on you more?
The stature of the club is such that even when we went over to America we were playing in front of 50-60,000 and it’s wowed me in terms of how big the club is. There’s going to be the spotlight on the players as there’s a lot of world-class players there , but hopefully I can take my chance and show that I belong there.
But this week you’re here in Bristol with the Under-21s and it’s five months since the last game – the defeat to Greece..
That was a disappointing and has set us back in terms of qualifying for next summer’s tournament . In training today everyone has been really sharp and determined. We’re just really looking forward to getting the game underway and hopefully we can get a positive result leading into our two crucial games next month.
What’s the message from the manager about those two important must-win games against Portugal and Lithuania in September?
There’s a lot of emphasis on next month and he’s trying to build a lot of things into the game here getting us to play to our tempo. We maybe got drawn into playing Greece’s tempo in the last game, but hopefully we can stress our tempo on the game and come away with a positive result.
And from your point of view you’d no doubt relish the opportunity to play in a major tournament next summer?
Definitely. I saw the last Under-21s Championship when I was on holiday, so hopefully we can qualify again and I think there’ll be a lot of boys really pushing for a place at that tournament. It’s a great achievement to be able to go away with the national team.
After the World Cup there has been a lot of emphasis place on England’s young players, so there’s an opportunity now for players like you to maybe make a breakthrough to the senior team?
We all watched the World Cup and it was obviously very disappointing for the nation. That does give us a chance in terms of people wanting the young players to progress. Hopefully if we train well and do well at our clubs we can come away with the national team and show that we belong. Everyone is determined to represent the Three Lions, we see a chance there and we just want to go out and show everyone what we can do.
And next up is Uzbekistan…
It’s a new team and I’m not sure many of us have ever played against Uzbekistan, so it’s going to be a different sort of game than we play against some of the other nations, but we’re all relishing that. There are a few new boys and they’ve settled in well, so we’re just looking forward to getting the game under our belts and I think everyone wants to take part in the game.
You can follow all the latest from the England Under-21s camp here on TheFA.com, on the team's Facebook page (www.facebook.com/EnglandU21s), or on Twitter (www.twitter.com/thefadotcom).
Tickets for this match are now on sale from the hotline number 0871 222 6666, or in person at Ashton Gate and online by clicking here.
Tickets are priced at £10 for adults and £5 for concessions (under-16s/senior citizens).
A discount applies for groups of 15 or more booking, with prices than reduced to £5 (adults) and £2.50 (concessions). For more information call 0871 222 6666 or download the appropriate form below.
Group Booking form, click here
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