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."