Chris Smalling delighted to return to central role for Manchester United

 

Chris Smalling was delighted to get back into the centre of Manchester United's defence in Bucharest last night.

Handed a starting role alongside skipper Nemanja Vidic for the 2-0 Champions League triumph over Otelul Galati, it was only the second time this season Smalling had begun a game in his favourite position.

Yet his performances at right-back have been so spectacular he got into the England side for last month's Euro 2012 qualifiers against Bulgaria and Wales.

However, Smalling clearly views it as a temporary measure.

"It was nice to be back in central defence," said the 21-year-old.

"That is my favourite position and I want to play as many games as I can there.

"But if I can contribute in any way, I will just give of my best."

Smalling may get another opportunity in that role when the Romanian champions head to Old Trafford in a fortnight as Vidic will be suspended thanks to his second-half dismissal for a foul on Gabriel Giurgiu.

The consensus from within the United camp was that it was a debatable call at best from referee Felix Brych.

And Smalling admitted he was shocked when Brych pulled out the red card.

"I saw it from behind," he said.

"I didn't expect the red card but in Europe they are a lot more harsh."

It meant United were forced to rely on two Wayne Rooney penalties for an unconvincing victory, although Smalling had detected Otelul were beginning to struggle handling the visitors' attacking stars.

"We had to be patient," he said.

"We didn't create too many chances in the first half but we kept pressing and it paid off.

"Wayne and Javier were causing problems around the box. The opposition were starting to pick up yellow cards and we were more penetrating close to goal."

Now United have moved into second spot in Group C, two points behind Benfica, and it would be a major surprise if they did not collect another three points against the same opponents in their next game to leave them well placed to reach the knockout phase.

"That was a massive game and we play them at home next," said Smalling.

"If we can pick up another three points it will look a lot rosier."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell