Manchester United defender Chris Smalling is determined to grab his opportunity with both hands when starting for England in tonight’s final World Cup match with Costa Rica.
Roy Hodgson’s Three Lions are incapable of reaching the knockout stages following a couple of hugely disappointing defeats to Italy and Uruguay in Group D. But Smalling, who will line up with his Reds team-mate Phil Jones, is hoping to put on a show for the fans in Belo Horizonte.
“All the way through I have been able to take part in the training sessions and give my all. If the opportunity comes on Tuesday then I will grab it,” Chris told TheFA.com. “There are a lot of young and exciting players coming through and that core will carry on going into Tuesday.
“That will be shown and hopefully we can put some smiles back on people’s faces after the disappointment. Going into the European Championship qualifiers, there is a good squad that we can really build on together.”
Smalling has 12 England caps to his name and played an integral role in securing qualification to this 2014 World Cup. Despite not featuring in Brazil thus far, the versatile 24-year-old hopes to impress in seasons to come.
While clearly under no illusions about this summer’s disappointments, Smalling insists England's youngsters can achieve success at Euro 2016: “The preparation couldn’t have been any better from our point of view and I think it will pay dividends. We don’t play until September but on Tuesday we can show there is a lot to look forward to.
“Obviously you can’t get over the disappointment that the tournament isn’t going to go any further but we have been able to get back on the field the last couple of days. We are now really looking forward to Tuesday so we can really give back to the fans that are out here and do really well.”
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