Smalling wants to make up for lost time
Chris Smalling has his sights set on cementing a spot in the England side as he aims to make up for the injury frustration which checked his progress with both club and country.
The Manchester United player made his international breakthrough 18 months ago following back-to-back appearances against Bulgaria and Wales at right back. The future looked bright for Smalling but he was then sidelined for six months with a groin injury and a broken metatarsal.
But he was chosen by Roy Hodgson for back to back internationals with Brazil at Wembley and, on Friday in San Marino, and said: "It has been a frustrating season. My season didn't get started until mid November with injuries."
He went on: "It was the second last game of the season against Swansea when I felt my groin and it ruled me out of the summer (Euro 2012).
"I came back for pre-season raring and ready to go and then my foot went so I didn't get going until mid November.
"But I've always been ready the last couple of months, I've stayed fit, and just hope to stay fit until the end of the season and keep picking up games.
"It's not been the ideal season. It's not been a great season but I just hope next season I can stay injury fit and play more games.
"I've been feeling good and hopefully I can finish the season strong and have a good pre-season because I didn't have a full one last summer."
Smalling is conscious of the opportunity to stake a claim to become an England regular especially given the number of centre-backs absent, injured or unavailable.
He said: "Am I conscious a position is up for grabs? Definitely. There were a few pull-outs for the San Marino game but it gives the people here an opportunity. I definitely see myself as having a chance with the more games I can get. If I can get on a little run, the position is more like your own."
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