Manchester United defender Chris Smalling says playing with Rio Ferdinand is 'a joy'
Ferdinand might only have played five times for Manchester United since Smalling arrived from Fulham in July, but his influence and general aura have clearly already been an inspiration. 'Whether he puts on that captain's armband or it is just in training, he is leading the team,' said Smalling. 'He has been a real joy to be alongside. The stature of the guy is something to look up to. He is so friendly at the training ground every day. He has eased me in really well and hopefully I will have many more games with him at Manchester United. He has built up that presence over the years and he is just very commanding. I cannot be in a better atmosphere to be learning my trade.' Specifically, Smalling says Ferdinand's composure is infectious and also praises how he has taught him to be 'the eyes' of the central midfielders. That vocal assistance was clearly evident in Smalling's performance for the England Under-21 team on Friday night in their European Championship play-off against Romania when he could be seen constantly advising and cajoling midfielders Fabrice Muamba and Jordan Henderson. Smalling also demonstrated his composure by scoring the late winner in a 2-1 victory that leaves the overall tie in the balance ahead of tomorrow's second leg in Botosani. 'A lot of us are trying to progress into our clubs and playing in a pressure game like this is definitely going to stand us in good stead,' said Smalling. 'Hopefully we can play in that tournament next summer because that will be a once in a lifetime experience for a lot of us young lads. I have played a couple of games for Manchester United and the manager has been really happy with my performances and he has said I would get chances along the way. I definitely see myself playing a lot of games this season.'
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