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Smalling form a boost for Ferguson
Manchester United defender Chris Smalling is taking the Euro route to becoming Rio Ferdinand’s long term successor. The £10m former Fulham central back will come of age in three weeks when he celebrates his 21st birthday. And the Greenwich-born England Under 21, who was playing in the Isthmian League just over two years ago, is making up time quickly. Sir Alex Ferguson decided to leave Rio Ferdinand behind in Manchester while the Reds are on Champions League duty after playing seven matches since returning from his pre-World Cup knee ligament injury. Smalling has played against Rangers and Bursaspor at Old Trafford in Europe and has two Carling Cup starts to his name since signing in the summer. Fergie believes Smalling is ready to add to his CV and is set to start against Bursaspor tonight in the Ataturk Stadium. “Rio has come on very well in the last few weeks but the form of Chris Smalling makes it very easy for me to leave Rio at home,” said Sir Alex in Turkey.
With eight days to go until the derby, there's speculation as to who might be fit - Wayne Rooney (Daily Star) - and who probably won't be - Carlos Tevez (Daily Mirror). Meanwhile, the fall-out from Nani's controversial goal against Tottenham continues, with Spurs boss Harry Redknapp threatening to boycott post-match interviews on TV if the FA punish him for his criticism of referee Mark Clattenburg.