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United’s fringe defender wants City start

Chris Smalling eyes Sunday's Manchester derby

By | 19th September 2013

Manchester United defender Chris Smalling has staked his claim for a spot in David Moyes’ starting eleven for this Sunday’s derby match against Premier League runners-up Manchester City. Smalling earned his first start of the season on Tuesday night in the club’s first Champions League group stage match against Bayer Leverkusen and was largely impressive, despite playing outside of his favored center back position.

Smalling replaced Fabio da Silva as Moyes’ starting right back for the match as the Scot looked to increase his defensive size and physical presence, and the decision paid off as Smalling won all eight of his aerial battles against the Germans. Now, Smalling stresses that while he doesn’t prefer playing in right back, he’s just happy to get playing time.

“I was just glad to get back playing again on Tuesday night,” Smalling told the Manchester Evening News“Right-back is not my preferred position, but I know I can play there if needs be and after such a frustrating time you are just glad to be back and involved again. Yes of course I want to stay in for Sunday. It is a game that we all relish.

“The ones like myself who have not been in the starting line-up just have to make sure in training we do as well as we can and make sure when we get our chance we let him know we are here and he doesn’t forget about us.”

Smalling saw his season disrupted by injuries last season under manager Sir Alex Ferguson, and also struggled for fitness during preseason. He finally appears match-fit and raring to go, giving Moyes yet another option in defense. Outside of the regular four of Rafael, Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic, and Patrice Evra, Moyes can also call on Smalling, Phil Jones, Jonny Evans, Fabio, and Alexander Buttner.

Smalling started just ten Premier League matches under Sir Alex Ferguson last season, but has started to establish himself in Roy Hodgson’s England squad.

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