18/01/2012 11:01, Report by Nick Coppack
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Smalling: Derby win was vital

Back after illness, Chris Smalling speaks exclusively to United Review and ManUtd.com about his hopes for the vital remainder of United's season...

How are you feeling now?
Good, thanks. I’m fit and well, ready to go again. I just needed a little bit of rest over the Christmas and New Year period to get over the tonsillitis. It’s nothing to worry about.

Was it frustrating to fall ill at a time when there was already a spate of injuries?
It was far from ideal. But the lads who stepped in did really well. I think we’ve probably had more injuries than any other club in the league. I definitely don’t think many teams have lost players of the calibre of Nemanja Vidic and Darren Fletcher for such lengthy periods. And yet we’re still going strong, we’re still challenging for the lead and we’re even getting a few players back now, which will be crucial for the title run-in.

How much has the chopping and changing affected the side?
Nobody could have foreseen the injuries we’ve had. At the start of the season, we had good numbers and good quality. With so many injuries the form was bound to dip once or twice, but we’re all pulling together and there have been plenty of good results.

Have you been pleased with your own contribution this season?
I had a little knock that kept me out for about six weeks in September and October but, otherwise, I’ve been happy with how things have gone. I’ve been involved in some big games and, when I’ve not been injured, played more often than not. I just hope I can steer clear of injury now and finish the season strongly.

How would you sum up the last month of action?
It’s been a bit of a mixed bag. We knew the Christmas period was going to be tough and we did well against QPR, Fulham and Wigan. But we were gutted to get beaten by Blackburn on New Year’s Eve and

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