28/10/2010 08:47, Report by Gemma Thompson
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Smalling eager to excel

almost had to pinch myself when I was lined up with the famous anthem echoing round the ground.

How has playing and training alongside Ferdinand and Vidic helped you progress so far?
It’s just good to watch how they deal with different situations and I want to bring the composure they show on the ball into my game. They’ve already given me a lot of advice and confidence and it’s been good to play alongside both of them and Jonny [Evans] – I’m learning off everyone.

A lot of people, including the boss, say you remind them of a young Rio…
[Smiles] Rio is definitely someone any young centre-back should look up to if they want to become a top player. Along with Tony Adams, he was one of the people I always used to watch growing up – they’re two of England’s greatest ever defenders. All the opportunities I get to train and play with Rio will only help me.

On a personal note, what are your hopes for the rest of the season?
Just to be involved as much as I can and help the team be successful. When I was at Fulham I played about 20 or so games and I’d like to think I could get at least that amount under my belt. I’ve been given a once in a lifetime opportunity and I’m determined to make the most of it.

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Premier League