26/11/2013 18:49, Report by N Thomas, J Tuck

Wayne is a winner

Manchester United defender Chris Smalling has heaped praise on team-mate Wayne Rooney and expects the forward to be a hugely important factor for the Reds against Bayer Leverkusen, and indeed for the remainder of the season.

Rooney's strike against Cardiff on Sunday brought his tally for the season up to eight and nudged the forward ever closer to overhauling Sir Bobby Charlton as the Reds' most prolific goalscorer. Smalling, however, is unsurprised by Wayne's fine form, explaining that his application in training is the reason behind his impressive displays.

"Wayne is a top player and he trains how he plays," Smalling said at the pre-match press conference in Leverkusen. "What you see on a Saturday afternoon is what we face every day in training."

The Reds defender went on to add that Rooney’s style of play only serves to inspire his team-mates, helping to encourage his colleagues in training and matches.

"You can see the hunger and passion he has when he plays, and that breeds through the changing room before games, at half-time and at full-time," Smalling added.

"He's just a born winner and that has an effect on the whole squad".

More: United Today: Live blog RvP and Vida miss out | Gallery: Get set for Germany   


Premier League