Manchester United defender Chris Smalling says he is determined to cement a starting place for both club and country following England’s disappointing World Cup performance in Brazil.
Smalling was involved as the Three Lions were held to a frustrating goalless draw by Costa Rica, which was the 24-year-old’s only involvement in the competition after sitting out the preceding defeats to Italy and Uruguay.
Now safely back home in Manchester, United’s promising talent admits he is already looking forward to starting England’s Euro 2016 qualifying campaign in September and hopes a positive start to the season with the Reds will ensure his place in Roy Hodgson’s XI.
"Next season I will look to really kick on and cement my position," Smalling told TheFA.com, before England set off on their journey back to England. "It's the end of the season now, so obviously we will go on a break. But I feel that if I get my chance like I did against Costa Rica, I can go out there and deliver.
"Roy knows that I am a centre-back and I really want to cement a starting place and be that number one. Hopefully, if I can go back to my club in the summer and do that, I can hopefully cement it for England as well. I am ready for this chance and it is about time I took it."
Smalling was also quick to pay tribute to the English fans, who gave the squad backing throughout the Costa Rica game in Belo Horizonte and also at full-time, despite having no further matches to look forward to.
"It was a really touching moment that they were really right behind us at the end," he added. "Even when we got to the hotel in Belo Horizonte, they were cheering us all the way despite the disappointment. You could accept it if they turned on us but they didn't - they have been terrific all the way through. It was great to see and it will drive us on for next time to make sure we deliver.”
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